Archive for January, 2017

Aronson Vacuum Significant


The Trump administration would be wise to treat the existing Colombian peace agreement with care. Doing so includes appointing someone with regional knowledge as U.S. special envoy for the process. Bernard Aronson, appointed by President Obama, has filled the position since 2014. His pragmatic approach was essential in negotiating with the FARC rebels while representing US interests. The process is not complete as the Colombian government recently launched talks with the remaining ELN guerilla group. The US should have its interests represented at these talks in a similar manner. As President Trump acts to move away from the Obama administration, costs such as this become apparent. Individuals like Aronson who have significant experience are key to US foreign policy success. Their talents rise above bipartisanship and are needed now more than ever.


Israeli Bill Attacks Palestinian State

Israeli occupation

Israel’s new settlement bill is in the works of being approved in order to allow the development of more settlements in the West Bank area. Although settlement building is illegal under international law (a situation recently addressed in a UN Security Council meeting,) settlements have grown exponentially throughout Palestinian territory. If this bill passes, Israel will bulldoze Palestine, furthering their occupation of the state. Ever since Donald Trump entered US office as President, Prime Minister Netanyahu is more confident than ever in backing this bill. Trump has issued several statements backing the Israeli government and military. I hold faith that the UN will help prevent further settlement activity and support Palestine’s endeavors in battling Israeli occupation.

Poland, Putin, and President Trump: America Participates In NATO Exercises In Poland

An American soldier salutes Polish President Andrzej Duda as U.S. and Polish troops participate in joint training exercises. (Associated Press / Krzysztof Zatycki / via Beloit Daily News)

An American soldier salutes Polish President Andrzej Duda as U.S. and Polish troops participate in joint training exercises. (Associated Press / Krzysztof Zatycki / via Beloit Daily News)

American troops deployed to Europe participated in joint training sessions today with the Polish military in Zagan, Poland. Under President Obama, the United States committed over 3,500 troops to the United States’ European NATO allies in a largely bipartisan effort to address concerns about Russian aggression. Polish President Andrzej Duda welcomed American troops, stating, “thirty years ago, which is not that long in history, we had units here in Zagan which we were forced to treat as allies [i.e. Soviet troops]. And today we have in Zagan allies who symbolize freedom.” The exercises today seemed largely intended as a show of strength directed at Russia, which has often posed significant threats to Poland’s security. A spokesperson for the Kremlin has already stated that this deployment “threatens [Russia’s] interests and our security” and that “this is even more pronounced when a third party [U.S.] reinforces its military presence on our doorstep in Europe.” This display of support for NATO and opposition to Russia seems contrary to the well-publicized views of President Trump, who has voiced disinterest in NATO and has expressed a desire to foster a closer relationship with Russia. As President Trump begins to deal more with the international political system, he would do well to keep in mind that America’s foreign policy has to prioritize supporting our allies, and weakening nations who seek to harm and intimidate our nation and its allies, not the other way around.


Bolivia Rejects Chilean Argument Concerning Silala Springs

Bolivia has rejected Chile’s claim that the waters of the Silala River flow naturally into the country. Bolivia has argued that the waters are instead diverted to flow into Chile. The Silala River has been a topic of dispute between the two countries for nearly 140 years. In 1879, Chile invaded and took Bolivian territory which was the country’s only access to the sea.  Bolivia was left with the Silala River, which flows from natural springs in on the Bolivian/Chilean border. Bolivia has asked repeatedly that Chile pay for the water that passes through the border and is consumed by both cities and mining operations. Chile has claimed that the waterway cannot be regulated because it is an international river.

The consequences for U.S. policy are mainly economic. The United States and Chile signed a bilateral trade agreement in 2004, which has reaped enormous benefits to U.S. corporations. Chile exports both copper and agricultural products to the United States. More recently, the two countries have engaged in the sharing of green energy technologies, with substantial investment from U.S. corporations– nearly $28 billion in 2014. In addition to these agreements, U.S. companies also own  If Chile were to have the water from the Silala River restricted to the country, the mines producing copper may be forced to slow their operations or close temporarily. While the United States can most likely find sources of copper elsewhere,  the potential for the closure of Chile’s copper mines would be a blow to U.S. corporations with investments in the region.  Bolivia has a less than friendly relationship with the United States. As a result, U.S. corporations invested only $578 million into the country, which still exported $1 billion in precious metals into the United States. While the scale of investment is much lower than in Chile, any conflict between these two states will have a negative impact on U.S. corporations. This may have a reverberating effect that may cause these U.S. corporations to lay off workers in the United States as they aren’t making the money to support their operations.

The Trump administration should attempt to find a middle ground that can satisfy both parties. Perhaps Chile could officially recognize the diversion of the Silala River for the past 100 years. While Chile could be encouraged to extend some form of payment to Bolivia in exchange for tapping into the river’s water supply, the country is far less likely to consider that option.

The article mentions that the dispute harkens back to 1879 when Bolivia lost its access to the sea. But the article does not explain how the Silala River fits into that picture. Is the Silala River Bolivia’s last body of water with access to the sea? What significance does it have for Bolivia, other than missed opportunities for potential payments?

Silala River



Trump Defends South Korea

Following his election, it was  unsure about what Trump would say in terms of keeping the commitment to defend our ally, South Korea. Our new president assured acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn that the relationship between the United States and Korea are “Ironclad”, even though during his campaign, president Trump claimed that South Korea was not paying enough for the U.S. troops that are stationed there. This assurance from our president comes at a good time however, since North Korea has recently warned that it could conduct its first test of an intercontinental missile anytime and anywhere. It is unsure, however whether or not North Korea actually has the capability to launch a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile, but the U.S. and South Korea will be prepared to work together with bilateral relations that will be “better than before” according to Trump. The United States’ Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will be visiting South Korea in the near future in an attempt to reflect the close friendship of the two countries. No doubt there will be talks during this visit on how the alliance should proceed forward in dealing with North Korea. The United States is bound by its alliance and therefore has an obligation to act upon any form of threat from the North to the South. Should North Korea prove its ability to launch intercontinental missiles, the United States should continue with its plan to place Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Systems in South Korea in order to protect itself and its allies.



Immigration ban is a Godsend to ISIS

immigration protest prayer

The immigration order, signed this past Friday, suspends refugee resettlement into the U.S. for four months, refugee resettlement from Syria indefinitely, and suspends entry by citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen (majority Muslim countries) for three months for those who are on immigrant visas, non-immigrant visas, green card holders, and including people holding dual citizenship with other nations. This order plays right into the “West vs. Islam/Clash of civilizations” propaganda that ISIS promotes. Many in ISIS consider the order a godsend as it will help push people towards the cause of the Islamic state group. The consequences of this event on US foreign policy will be an increase in force and resources to fight ISIS should the group begin to grow again. Outrage from all over the world over the ban indicates that the US may be fighting alone.


War On Innocents


The militant group, Boko Haram has been ruthlessly killing innocent people in Nigeria and throughout Western Africa. The most recently attack was in a town called Madagali, close to the border of Chad. The attack was carried out by a female suicide bomber who strapped an infant to her back to pass through checkpoint security stations. The female solider then used the infant to mingle among the market before detonating her explosions and killing innocent market shoppers. In the article I read, UNICEF has reported, that this is the first time Boko Haram has used an infant for a bombing. The militant group typically uses children, 75% of whom are girls most likely the girls they have kidnapped and stolen from homes. Using infants for suicide bombings is an extremely low measure and goes to show their low morale for life. Women using infants to avoid detection and then set off their explosives in market places, churches and crowded places is a human rights concern and the US should be more involved.

The Trump administration had few words to say about relations in Africa during the first few days of the presidency. The US involvement in stopping and putting an end to Boko Haram has been very minimal, the Obama administration would send supplies to Nigerians military fighting Boko Haram and Nigerian officials seem to worry that the supplies will be cut off by Trump. President Trump did not seem interested in giving foreign assistance to Nigeria. It will be interesting how this will play out over the next few weeks, especially with Trumps new immigration policies.


Putin’s Perturbing Polar Push

As Russia finds itself increasingly hemmed in by NATO, it has continued to expand further into the Arctic – a deeply disturbing move for Canada, the USA, and Scandinavian states. While the North Pole has traditionally been neutral ground, Russian forces have been rapidly expanding and reclaiming long-lost Soviet bases. It’s estimated that up to a quarter of the world’s oil is located in the Arctic, and Russia has made several territorial expansion claims over the years. This deeply impacts the security of the previously mentioned countries, with Russian soldiers staking the Motherland’s claim far too close for comfort. Short of starting a land grab in the North Pole, there seems little that NATO can do.



Chimera Advent Likely to Cause Controversy


Just a few days ago, scientists reached a breakthrough with the successful growth of a human-pig hybrid embryo. The term ‘chimera’ comes from the Greek, meaning ‘mythical creature.’ The push for this kind of scientific ingenuity is to successfully culture and grow human cells using an animal host, with the hope to eventually grow human-animal hybrid organs for transplant patients who otherwise would spend months, sometimes years, on the transplant list.

Unfortunately, the experiments yielded minimal success, despite being an extraordinary breakthrough. However, this could potentially become a problem down the line, if we begin to rely too heavily on this method of tissue development and it eventually falters. Furthermore, there is always the fear of rejection- while pigs and humans possess remarkably similar cell structure, humans still often reject other human organs.

We may also have an “arms race” on our hands. If the United States begins competing to become and remain a leader in this field, it could potentially lead to further conflict and unnecessary allocation of valuable resources. Lastly, there are already groups opposing this science- for religious or moral reasons, or some purely out of fear. This could serve to further the divide between the public and the scientific community, and if this research begins to thrive off of government funding, it could become a partisan issue on par with stem-cell research and abortion.


House Panel Look Into Links Between Russia and the Trump Campaign

US President Donald Trump speaks to the staff at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, DC, on January 25, 2017.

The USNews reports that a House Intelligence Committee is investigating whether or not there was any interference by Russia in the U.S. presidential election as well as any ties with Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. This committee is has been looking into the information that the intelligence community reported, where they found evidence that Russian hackers have hacked democratic servers as well as creating an influence and perspective of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, benefiting Donald Trump.  The House committee is focusing on Russian cyber activity that were directed to the U.S. and allies. There has been conflict within the GOP on how to handle the situation of Russia “meddling” in the election;  there has been much debate especially with Rep. Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham who call for a special panel to investigate, while party leader on Capitol Hill refuse.  The issue of Russia meddling with the U.S. Presidential elections shows how cyber security needs to improve. The ability for a different country to be able to affect the political atmosphere of a well developed country proves there are flaws in the system. The president has the ability to shape and form not only domestic, but international political, economic, and social atmosphere, and with Russia meddling in the presidential campaign, they undermines the democracy that the United States stands for and the legitimacy of our democracy. That being said, there had to be a reason for the alleged cyber hacking by Russia. A political dilemma was in mind, and to see how this plays out with Russia and U.S. ties will bring more insight.


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