Archive for November, 2019

DRC, Unrest, and the Problems of International Law

After a series of insurgent attacks, many in the DRC have become increasingly frustrated with UN troops. Disgruntled citizens stormed UN operations and looted them. This comes on the heal of a slow international reaction to the country’s Ebola crisis in addition to continued instability from insurgent groups in the less-populous areas of the country.

International peacekeeping efforts by the UN are typically met with criticisms of not doing anything.  in several interviews of citizens, it appeared that this has also been a factor in the DRC. As I have mentioned previously, given the several problems that the DRC has had with corruption, insurgency, and disease in the past few months, eventual unrest occurs.

Case studies like these showcase the problems of international law interacting with developing countries. Problems are often ingrained into a wider history of political or military instability and requires large funding and long-term commitment. Organizations like the UN have small executing power due the competing interests of all member countries. This means their ability to respond to crisis is limited, since they try to avoid deep involvement, contrasting the interests of member states, or using significant funds.

John H.

NATO, US Army to conduct air assault ‘forcible entry’ exercises

US Army airborne forces alongside NATO and other allies are preparing combat exercises In Lithuania, Poland and Georgia. It is important to note that Georgia is not a NATO ally but has been in the face of Russian aggression for the past decade. The Airborne part of this operation is part of a much larger NATO exercise called Defender. Defender is the largest deployment of US forces on the continent in 25 years.

Large scale war games and operations like Defender broadcast to the Russians and that NATO is still willing to show large forces of strength like was done during the Cold War. Operationally NATO remains lethal although on the side of political leadership the alliance has been showing signs of fracture between what was once deemed the preeminent powers of Britain, France, Germnay and the United States.
-Reavis L.

Street gang leader in Chicago charged in trying to help ISIS

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The leader of a Chicago street gang has been charged for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State in Syria. Abdul Ja’Me believed the money was being sent to a soldier engaged in active combat in Syria. The total amount being sent was $500. The active combat soldier fighting for the Islamic State that Abdul believed was receiving the money was actually an undercover law enforcement officer.

There have been so many cases inside of America where individuals who have been influenced by the ideology of ISIS have attempted to provide material support to the Islamic State or carry out lone wolf attacks. This is extremely threatening to security in America. ISIS has been attempting to bring the war to America by calling on Muslims in the U.S. to arms and anyone who sympathizes with the terrorist group to wage open source jihad and to carry out lone wolf attacks. American security has to do a better job at detecting aspiring terrorists within the country’s borders before they prepare attacks and attempt to carry them out.

Christopher T

Prolonged Peace Deal

Once again, the leaders of the fledgling government of South Sudan have missed the deadline to form the transition unity government. They had previously agreed upon signing in September, then extended the meeting until November 20th. Not necessarily very surprisingly, this date came and went with no progress. Kiir and Machar have pushed the formation of a new administration back 100 more days, stating that “critical tasks” had not yet been completed.

A possible consequence of the continued prolonging of this process is the return to war. South Sudan has been held in tentative peace for around a year, but stability is far from the picture. There has been a noted decrease in political violence since the peace deal has come about, but without any definitive action it is uncertain how long this will last. U.S. and other international interests have made it clear that holding national elections is necessary to ensuring stability. Without a unity government being developed soon, the planned 2022 elections will almost certainly be pushed off even further.

Julia G.

China Can Shut Down Philippine Power Grid

For the Philippines, their power comes from China and could be shut off anytime. China has a 40% stake in the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines with Chinese engineers being the only ones with access to the system. Meaning that the power could be shut off remotely. A Philippine source said that Philippine national security is compromised due to the control of the power grid. The arrangement between the Philippines and China has been ongoing for almost a decade with concern being raised because of a debate between Filippino Senators over the 2020 energy budget. The Philippines would like to see control returned to the Philippines for peace of mind and security

China and the Philippines have bilateral cooperation, but even bilateral cooperations have some hesitancy behind them. Though there has been no such attack mounted against the Philippines before and there is no evidence there is still a possibility especially if China wants something and the Philippines do not agree with the terms, they could be held hostage by China into giving in to the demands. Again, this is only a thought, nothing has been suggested that this will actually happen. I think the Philippines have a right to have control and access to their own power grid as it affects them. However, to have no control over the infrastructure of the country puts the country at risk which could lead to war and incidents between the countries and that could bring the US into a conflict in the Pacific.


Potential for New Attacks by Iran

Recently, the US Chief Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie stated that there is still a possibility for the Iranian government to attack another Saudi oil tanker. He would later state that the United States cannot discount Iran. McKenzie referred to the drone and missile attacks on the Saudi oil field that took out nearly 5.7 million bpd of production. Following the attacks, insurance rates for oil tankers carrying Middle Eastern oil shot up, increasing shipping costs.

The United States has numerous security implications with this scenario unfolding. The United States and its ally, the United Kingdom made a coalition to protect tankers in the Gulf. The goal for both these nations is to ensure that oil tankers have no interference while passing through the Strait of Hormuz.


Theo S.


Deforestation Leads to Rise in Infectious Diseases

Deforestation is typically thought of in terms of environmental impact, however there is another deadly cost. When deforestation occurs wildlife is displaced, often these animals carry unfamiliar diseases which they then spread to domestic animals or humans. In 1997 a large number of fruit bats were disturbed by deforestation in Malaysia, within two years the bats had spread Nipah virus to the pigs and pig farmers in the surrounding areas. Another way that deforestation causes the spread of infectious diseases is by increasing the numbers of mosquitoes, the conditions left behind by deforestation are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes carry malaria, and the number of people infected with malaria have risen when deforestation has gone up.

The U.S. is vulnerable to the spread of mosquito carried diseases and possible infectious diseases crossing the boarder through immigration or travelling citizens. There is no way to stop all of these dangers, but increased resources in ecological conservation will help to mitigate some of the damage that has been done to forested areas. Additionally, the U.S. should invest in research in identifying previously unknown infectious diseases, so that if any of them should make the jump from animal to human, we are better prepared.


Gas Emissions Reach New Heights

Greenhouse gas emissions have once again broken records, despite global efforts to halt rising levels. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), carbon dioxide and methane levels have reached 147% and 259% of the 1750 per-industrial levels, respectively. Another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide, has risen to 123% of pre-industrial levels. There is no sign of these emissions slowing, despite increasing global efforts to curb greenhouse gases.

Global warming associated with increased greenhouse gas emissions will pose a significant security risk to states across the globe. The US will face challenges from food shortages, extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels, and mass migrations. It is absolutely necessary that programs are implemented to mitigate these threats as it is no longer possible to reverse the effects of climate change.

-Nick C.

Chinese Spy in Australia

Recently, a Chinese intelligence officer, Wang “William” Liqiang defected to Australia and is now cooperating with the Australian counterespionage service, ASIO. As per reporting in various open sources, he has revealed Chinese operations to kidnap Hong Cong booksellers including his personal involvement in at least one kidnapping. He also revealed Chinese intelligence services’ actions in subverting elections in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Australia. Mr. Liqiang is in Australia on a tourist visa with his wife and infant son and is seeking asylum in Australia.

The US government should seek access to Mr. Liqiang through the invoking of the Five Eyes Agreement and debrief him. The US government should also work with the Australian government in facilitating the protection of Mr. Liqiang and his family and should be willing to relocate Mr. Liqiang and his family to the US if his safety cannot be guaranteed in Australia.

Kuljeet S.

At an event with figures from over 15 countries in the Arab world the Arab Initiative moved to reject the BDS movement that seeks to isolate Israel through economic means. Instead the initiative formed a group that has been termed the Arab Council for Regional Integration. While the group also will seek to tactile fundamentalist Islam and economic integration it is also seeking to re-initiate peace talks with Israel and the Palestinian territories. Further the Arab Initiative called for Jewish people to return to the Arab countries they left and to work towards reconciliation. The United States should provide diplomatic support for this new imitative as it has the possibility of providing a long lasting solution to one of the oldest conflicts in the Middle East, or at the very least providing progress towards that goal.

Jordan's King Abdullah II (R) greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as leaders gathered to deliver a joint statement on Middle East Peace talks in the East Room of the White House in Washington September 1, 2010 (photo credit: REUTERS/JASON REED)

John F.

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