Archive for November, 2019

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots Hires David Wreckham

David Wreckham, a robot created on the BBC TV show, is the new face of the campaign against killer robots. This droid will be visiting the UN to share his message with diplomats, then will continue on to corporations in New York that specialize in advanced technologies in a new lobbying effort. Ironic that an autonomous robot is an icon with a world without them; however Wreckham has been branded as a peace robot fighting for a cause. Not all robots will be as kind as him in the words of Clare Conboy, the communications director for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

The efforts to publicize this mission emphasizes the importance of public opinion in such a ban. If David Wreckham is successful in drawing in public attention governments will have to view the security issue of Lethal Autonomous Robots (LARs) as a public opinion issue as well. In a democracy such as the United States, it is going to be almost impossible to develop and use LARs if using them eliminates a politician’s re-electability. The picture that is being painted of LARS exemplifies the balance that must be found between securing a nation and maintaining power domestically. 

Rachel M

North Korea’s End of Year Wishlist

Kim Jong Un is requesting his usual sanctions relief and security guarantees, but this time with a harsh deadline of the end of this year. We have not been able to come up with a sufficient agreement in 66 years (end of Korean War), so how can we do so in about a month’s time? Especially with the current administration, it is unrealistic for anything worthwhile to be done. Kim Jong Un claims to resume currently prohibited long-range missile testing, in hopes of being capable of reaching the U.S., Kim Jong Un’s demands were prompted by a “betrayal” on the U.S. side as we continued military joint relations with South Korea, which Kim Jong Un said is a breach of a prior agreement. Whether there was a breach of an agreement or not does not matter, North Korea’s perception does. If Kim Jong Un thinks the U.S. betrayed him, he has more incentive to revolt and continue breaking our demands. 

There is no time to negotiate anything drastic, nor long-term, so the administration must decide how to keep Kim Jong Un at bay and hopefully keep future warned tensions in the future to a minimum. Kim Jong Un has broken a few of our agreements, but Trump has failed to do anything about it. Because of this, Kim Jong Un thinks he can do whatever he wants without repercussions while he is keeping a stronghold on the U.S. for our “undisguised breach” of the agreement. At the very minimum, Trump should reciprocate the firmness North Korea is placing on us, and also attempt to convince Kim Jong Un that we are working towards a new set of negotiations pending his compliance as well.


Hong Kong protests: China condemns ‘appalling’ attack on official in UK

China has condemned what it called an “appalling attack” by protesters on Hong Kong’s justice secretary in London on Thursday evening. Teresa Cheng fell and was treated for an arm injury in hospital after being jostled by about 30 supporters of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

What happened to Teresa Cheng?
The justice secretary had been in Camden, north London, to promote Hong Kong as a dispute resolution and deal-making hub. A video showed her walking towards a lecture at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) when she was surrounded by a group of protesters; in the melee, Ms Cheng fell to the ground.

Mr Geng, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, said the attack was “directly related to certain British politicians confusing right from wrong on the Hong Kong issue and their support for violent acts, giving a platform to those who are anti-China and want to create chaos in Hong Kong”. He said if the UK did not alter its approach “and continues to add fuel to the fire, sow discord and instigate others” it would “bring calamity on itself”. He urged the UK to “bring the culprits to justice and… also protect the safety and integrity of all Chinese people in the nation”.

I believe this event will have tainted UK and Chinese relations and increases the possibility of future tensions between the nations over Hong Kong. The Chinese propaganda on the UK after this event would be interesting to see.

Israel Decapitates Islamic Jihad

Yesterday morning in his last few hours as defense minister Israeli prime minister Netanyahu ordered a strike that eliminated the Islamic Jihad terrorist leader Baha Abu Al-Ata in the Gaza Strip. In response Islamic Jihad had launched over a hundred missiles in to Israel as the conflict continues to escalate. The escalation of the conflict further shows how decapitation strikes alone do not cause a terrorist group to disintegrate due to their bureaucratic structure.

This escalation is made worse by the fact that no major party has been able to form a parliamentary majority. Currently Blue and White coalition leader Benny Gantz has the mandate to form a government. Recent rumors and discussions have circulated that Gantz was considering forming a minority government with the support of the Arab Joint List. Some commentators believe this strike was a last ditch effort by Netanyahu to save his political career.

The strike and the escalation has the possibility to lead to a government of desperation lead by Netanyahu in order to deal with the crisis. Further there is the possibility the strike was done to make a minority government with the Joint List impossible due to the classified security Intel the Joint List parties would then be entitled too could be seen as a threat to Israel Defense Force Operations. This line of argument has been made by Netanyahu repeatedly in the past. The possible escalation of conflict in the Gaza Strip could save Netanyahu his political career at the risk of Palestinian elections getting canceled and seeing an escalated conflict that may or may not be beneficial to Israel.

John F.

Poland’s prime minister brands Macron ‘irresponsible’ on Nato

The Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, criticized french President Emmanuel Macron of speaking irresponsibly on NATO. Macron had said that NATO was suffering ‘braon death’ and questioned the alliances commitment to mutual defense. Morawiecki has expressed that the alliance is as vital as ever and disparaged those in Europe who no longer believe in the mission. an issue that Morawiecki brought up was the Nord Stream 2 project, which brings Russian natural gas into Europe. Morawiecki’s criticism is that this project undermines European energy security and directly funds Russian arms and armor on Poland’s doorstep. In recent Months Macron has pushed for normalization of relations with Russia.

The united states, despite our current administration’s unilateralism, should also be wary of any singular NATO members efforts to decrease pressure on Russia. Russia still remains a geo-strategic adversary in several arenas including Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Allies like Poland, who meet required NATO spending amounts and are loyal to the United States should be greatly valued. Pushing them away in any means would drastically decrease our own influence and power abroad.
-Reavis L.

Warmer Oceans, Stronger Storms

Warming ocean temperatures have led to more damaging hurricanes. Researches have determined that, due to global warming, the occurrence of devastating storms are now three times higher than a century ago. Researches examined several hurricanes such as Katrina and Irma to estimate the total cost of hurricane related damages over the past century. The results showed a clear positive trend, suggesting that hurricanes are getting stronger and more destructive.

Human and economic security are threatened as stronger hurricanes damage infrastructure and displace populations. Katrina’s devastation alone is still being felt in 2019, 14 years after the storm made landfall. Implementing effective early warning systems and emergency responses are imperative in mitigating the effects of these ever-strengthening storms.

-Nick C

Measles Causes Immune System Reset

According to two new studies, measles kills the antibodies which fight infections, causing something called “immune amnesia”. After contracting measles, one study showed that 11 to 73% of children’s antibodies were destroyed. This makes individuals who get measles more likely contract other diseases and less able to fight them off because of their weakened immune systems. While it is possible to rebuild an immune system, it requires being vaccinated against diseases or contracting an illness again.

Measles is a rising threat in the U.S. as more parents refuse to vaccinate their children. It is also a growing threat around the world, for example the measles epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed more people than the present Ebola outbreak, mostly children. The U.S. should improve education regarding the safety of vaccination, combating disinformation about vaccines. The U.S. should also look into the possibility of instituting a mandatory vaccination program.


Duterte Hands Over His ‘War on Drugs’

Rodrigo Duterte has made a move that some are saying could be political suicide to Leni Robredo’s political career. Duterte has handed over his “war on drugs” campaign to his vice president. Robredo, a former human rights lawyer has been very critical of Duterte’s campaign that has “killed thousands of mostly petty drug suspects.” Robredo is now one of two heads of an inter-agency committee tasked with overseeing and coordinating efforts to combat illegal drugs. More than 6,300 people have been killed in Duterte’s “war on drugs”. Robredo is looking at this as a public health concern as nothing has been done about addiction in the country.

I find it interesting that a former human rights lawyer has not really said anything about how Duterte’s crimes are considered human rights abuses, nor said anything about the complaints filed with the international criminal court. She does, however, want to put an end to the killings and hold police accountable for their actions. I do agree though that this is equally a public health crisis as well as a crime problem. Duterte is targeting the people, not the explicit problem-addiction. I also think that Robredo’s appointment is due to global pressure that Duterte is facing, but only time will tell if her appointment does any good and isn’t a move by Duterte to undermine and destroy her.


Peaceful Land Transfer

This week Israel returned two peaces of lands it had been leasing from Jordan after Jordan filed a one year notice on withdraw from the deal a year ago. Israeli government officials commented on how this shows the seriousness of tensions in the region and how it is sad that the deal could not be continued as a result. As a part of the deal Jordan would maintain sovereignty over the regions while the lands would be open to Israeli farmers. Further complicating the matter is that due to electoral gridlock there is still no functioning government in Israel.

While it may be unfortunate that the deal could not be continued, mainly due to mounting pressure from Jordanian citizens. While Israel and Jordan had gone to war twice in the past and relations are tense currently it is a positive sign that the land was handed over without issues of violence and bloodshed. This peaceful transfer of sovereignty should be used as a baseline for what the U.S. should support elsewhere in the Levant region as an example of what has worked well in the past.

John F.

Who Has the Upper Hand?

Moving over to West Africa this week, the United States has recently cut Cameroon out of a trade pact due to the continuation of allegations of human rights violations. This comes after a fairly recent (February of this year) cut in security aid over similar concerns. Trump cited accusations of crimes such as torture and “extrajudicial killings of citizens” as the main reasons for removing the country from AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act). This trade pact has helped many African countries improve ties with the United States and benefit from such relations. The Minister Delegate of Cameroon (Felix Mbayu) claims that the sanctions are not rooted in concern over human rights, but rather Cameroon’s increasingly close relationship with China. Mbayu states that they do not need to be a part of AGOA and that they have other partners that they see as more important. He also argues that the U.S. needs them more than Cameroon does.

I find this scenario to be extremely interesting. Being a dominant power, the U.S. (as well as other strong countries) has used economic tools to make statements and accomplish goals successfully in the past. The fact that Cameroon is aligning itself to publicly with China and essentially disregarding the actions of the U.S. shows a potentially dramatic shift in the global dynamic. Economic sanctions and actions of the like are often the go-to move; what do we do when these do not work? What should the U.S.’s next move be here? Do we say that we did what we can, and say the rest is up to them? Are such human rights violations worth further involvement? Is our economy going to suffer from the ceasing of petroleum imports from Cameroon? There are many questions that are raised here that we may not have the answers to quite yet.

Julia G.

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