Archive for October, 2020

Iran Uses US Voter Rolls in Misinformation Campaign to Interfere in Election

On Wednesday, Oct 21, John Ratcliffe, the director of national security, revealed that Iran and Russia obtained voter registration data and are trying to influence the U.S. presidential election. Iran contacted voters via threatening emails masked as messages sent by the Proud Boys, a pro-Trump, white nationalist group that the president mentioned in the first debate. Ratcliffe says the cyber-attack is meant to “—cause confusion, sow chaos and undermine your confidence in American democracy.” 

This is a threat to national security because it is Iran’s most blatant attempt at interfering with an American election. The cyber-attack hacked voter rolls and used public records against the US. By undermining the American public’s faith in our democratic institutions and the outcome of the upcoming election, Iran, China, and Russia can weaken the USA from within. Although there is an assumption that the emails favor the election of Biden, the ultimate goal of the attack was to create controversy and doubt, which helps neither candidate.

To address the situation, local election officials should reach out to the voters who received the emails and confirm that they were part of a misinformation campaign by Iran. National security officials and the White House should reassure voters that this attack was by Iran and meant to sow chaos, not to benefit either candidate. The Trump administration should avoid spinning the attack as a plot to benefit Biden because, not only is this untrue, it furthers the objective of our enemy: to create division.   

Elisabeth Nagle

https://www.npr.org/2020/10/22/926538119/iran-blamed-for-threatening-election-emails-u-s-intelligence-officials-say

Pakistan Accuses Macron of Encouraging Islamophobia

France’s President Macron’s recent remarks regarding Islam and blasphemy have generated a reaction from several Muslim countries, now including Pakistan. Last week, a French schoolteacher was beheaded for showing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in his class. President Macron later called that teacher a “quiet hero” and defended his freedom to show such an image. He plans to implement regulations that limit home schooling and other measures to reduce indoctrination among Muslims in France. The French government later projected the cartoons onto government buildings. Macron’s actions have drawn international backlash from Muslim-Majority countries. President Erdogan of Turkey went as far as to say Macron needs mental treatment for his comments. On Sunday, Prime Minister Khan of Pakistan addressed the situation, calling out Macron for attacking Islam and encouraging Islamophobia instead of focusing on extremists. He believes that Macron’s policies only lead to increased Radicalization among Muslims. Prime Minister Khan has summoned the French ambassador to discuss the situation. Pakistan has strict blasphemy laws, some of which are punishable by death, showing how seriously blasphemy is taken in Pakistan. Khan has consistently tried to address rising Islamophobia in the west, including writing a letter to Facebook to ask them to ban Islamophobic content. The company said that they will work on the issue, stating that they stand against all forms of hate.

Macron’s stance on the issue could have serious consequences, as several Islamic countries have announced a boycott of French products, including Pakistan. France has also had to recall its ambassador from Turkey.

Chester Pruitt

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/26/pakistan-accuses-macron-of-encouraging

President Bukele’s false promise

Following the previous presidential elections in El Salvador there has been rising controversy over President Bukele’s ability to fulfill his campaign promises . During the elections, President Bukele vowed to eliminate repression within the country. However, his recent actions following the COVID outbreak tell a different story. He’s continued the repressive and militarized response, using the pandemic as a smoke screen for his methods. Over the last couple of months, President Bukele deployed armed soldiers to perform tasks of containment in regards to the virus. A recent article deemed this demonstration as an “unnecessary deployment of the police and military.” President Bukele defended his position by noting it as a comprehensive public security strategy that would prioritize prevention.

While it’s common for presidents to go back on their promises, President Bukele’s methods seem to not only disregard his campaign agenda but completely contradict his political standpoint. To phrase it differently, he could’ve broken he’s promise by simply doing nothing , instead he’s chosen to not only overlook repression but also instigate it. I think his excuse of taking a militarized approach to combat the spread of the virus out of concern for public safety only demonstrates that he’s using the pandemic as a scapegoat. I don’t doubt that he’ll continue the deployment of police well past the pandemic. The only question is what will be his excuse next time.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/10/represion-militarizacion-seguridad-publica-el-salvador/

-Natalie Vazquez

US Approves $2.37B Arms Deal

As recently noted, Taiwan and the US have been growing closer which is angering Beijing. According to The Hill, as of this morning the Trump Administration signed a $2.37B arms deal with Taiwan. The latest announcement has already drawn the ire of China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory and objects whenever the United States brokers a new arms sale there.

A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry said Monday that Beijing would sanction several U.S. companies over the arms sales.

Honestly, I think this is a ploy by the Trump administration to show superiority against China’s empty threats. Since relations with China have been deteriorating as Trump seeks to blame China for the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 220,000 lives in the U.S. and weakened the president’s chances for reelection. It is hard to tell whether or not this arms deal will actually worsen Beijing’s sanctions, but a good guess would be yes.

https://thehill.com/policy/defense/522861-trump-administration-approves-237b-arms-sale-to-taiwan

Alexis Rudisel 

How Terrorists can take Advantage of Germany’s Deportation Policy

A possible act of terrorism committed by a Syrian refugee has led German security officials to call for a review of Germany’s rules prohibiting all deportations to Syria. The controversy is heightened by the refugee’s history of attempts to recruit for the Islamic State group. Germany revoked the Syrian’s status in 2019. Still, there is a conflict with the state law that prohibits the former refugee from being deported, resulting in a security concern of continuous terrorist threats posed by the individual’s radicalization motives and other refugees that may have similar intentions. German approved refugee applications state, “Deportation is prohibited according to section 60, paragraph 5 if it is inadmissible under the terms of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 1950 (ECHR), which entered into force for Germany in 1952.” Germany has not deported individuals to Syria since 2012 because of the ongoing Civil War. Security officials from Germany’s federal and state governments have the right to change the policy. However, Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (conservative) and Interior Minister Boris Pistorius (center-left) have a significant controversy about whether the policy should stay in effect or not, and for it to change, there needs to be full support. Germany’s current prohibition of deportation to Syria poses a considerable security threat with the influx of migrants the country is likely to receive following the opening of borders post-COVID following the mass Syrian refugee camps closed in neighboring countries. It is in Germany’s best national security interest to reform their deportation policy, especially since they have already supported a case in which a display of terrorist activity will not result in deportation enticing other terrorists in the country to exploit the policy.

Ashlee Warren

https://www.startribune.com/german-official-questions-syria-deportation-halt/572843032/?refresh=true

https://www.loc.gov/law/help/refugee-law/germany.php

Elections in Ukraine

This past weekend Ukraine held nation-wide local elections. The results of this election are interesting and show what the people are wanting and not wanting. One of the biggest take aways from the election is that support for the current President’s, Zelensky, party is declining rapidly. It is suspected that the severe decrease in support is as a result of the Servant of the People’s party (Zelensky’s) and the Opposition Platform For-Life party banning together on policy issues. The Opposition Platform For-Life party is pro- Kremlin and is led by Viktor Medvedchuk, who is supposedly Putin’s unofficial representative. I found this to be extremely interesting especially considering Zelensky’s early promises of ridding Ukraine of political corruption. He abandoned these goals soon after election, and corruption still runs rampant and Moscow is still able to have control. Perhaps this sort of corruption is what prevents the international community from coming to Ukraine’s “rescue” regarding Crimea. Even if they did help, and push Russia out, their influence would still be far reaching into Ukrainian government and politics. Perhaps ridding themselves of the Servant of the People’s party would be good for Ukraine and their problem with Russia and Crimea.

-Meeks

More Boko Haram Militants Dead

Yesterday, Boko Haram militants attempted to take over a community in Northeastern Nigeria which resulted in 6 Boko Haram militants being killed by the Nigerian police force in a gunfight. The gunfight was estimated to have lasted around 3 hours and 1 police officer was killed and another injured while 6 Boko Haram militants were killed, and many wounded from bullets. Boko Haram militants are also responsible for torching a surveillance vehicle in the area and destroying government assets which ignited panic in residents residing in this community. Due to all of the violence, the Nigerian Police has increased sweeps in the area to find more Boko Haram militants. A few weeks ago I mentioned that Boko Haram’s leaders were supposedly decapitated by the Nigerian military. I talked about how if Boko Haram is going to survive from that, they are going to have to maintain popularity and bureaucratic hierarchy. After reading this article, I do not think Boko Haram is resilient enough to recover from the decapitation of the group’s leaders. Every week, the Nigerian police are reporting that they are killing militants and forcing them out of the area. I think this article displays that Nigeria is responding to the violence by the militants well and doing everything they can to terminate this terrorist organization. I believe if Nigeria continues to effectively push out Boko Haram militants and kill them when they are targeting communities, Boko Haram will shortly fall apart and be denied of the oxygen they need to survive. While I also believe the country needs to fix the underlying issues that are making it susceptible to terrorism, I think Nigeria’s response to the violence shows them handling their issues on their own and taking appropriate action to discontinue the terrorism provoked by Boko Haram in the country.

Anna Longacher

The Election and NATO

With the presidential election quickly approaching it will become increasingly more important to study the relationship between the U.S. and NATO. President Trump has made claims of backing off from the alliance and if we see a second term for the Trump Administration it will be interesting to see if there is follow-through on these claims. The alliance is preparing for its 2021 strategic concept and military approach; however, the outcome of the U.S. presidential election could play a defining factor in the future of the alliance. This article puts an emphasis on the need for the alliance to be capable of adapting to a changing world, politically and environmentally. It argues that whoever the next American president is should keep the U.S. in NATO and acknowledge the collective strength that each member-nation gains from being in the alliance. It will be interesting to witness how the alliance prepares and reacts to the upcoming presidential election.

Emily DePersio

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/next-president’s-nato-opportunity-actual-adaptation-171280

North Korea Claims they have Zero Covid-19 Cases

North Korea claims that they still have no Coronavirus cases due to their strict restrictions and precautions. However, the United States has speculated whether these claims are true. North Korea is telling everyone to stay inside as much as possible due to the yellow dust storm coming from China. Many believe that the dust storm might carry coronavirus and could infect the North Koreans. With the virus spreading quickly throughout the world, North Korea is in fear that this could cause cases in their supposedly “covid-free” country. The newspaper has warned and advised people to stay inside and avoid any outdoor activity. They are encouraging people to wear masks and to proceed with caution. The Trump Administration as well as South Korea has doubted whether North Korea really does not have any Coronavirus cases. The medical system is poor in North Korea so it would be no surprise if they are lying and misinforming the world. It would not be the first time they have lied about what is going on inside its borders. President Trump should keep North Korea at close watch to make sure they are not planning or plotting anything due to these false claims. This is not particularly a security threat to the United States, however, it may pose tensions between South Korea.

-Erica Ganthner

https://thehill.com/policy/international/asia-pacific/522573-north-korea-warns-citizens-to-stay-home-says-dust-from

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/3/22/alarm-and-scepticism-over-n-korea-claim-of-being-coronavirus-free

U.S. Borders with Canada and Mexico will Stay Closed Due to Health Concerns

Until November 21st, the United States borders will stay closed to both Canada and Mexico for non-essential travel. They have been closed since March 23rd, 2020. Non-essential travel includes tourism and recreational purposes. Travel for work, study, economic services, infrastructure support, health, medical care, safety, and security will continue to be allowed. The acting secretary of the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security confirmed the news by saying that the U.S. is working closely with the countries to find safe ways to ease the restrictions. On the other hand, the Canadian Prime Minister has said that the U.S. does not have COVID-19 under control and they need to make sure that they are keeping Canadians safe. By keeping restrictions on travel from the U.S., the Prime Minister is reassuring the people that the government is taking action in health safety. Not only is the Canadian government taking precaution to protect their country’s health, but by keeping restrictions it forces the outside countries to narrow down the reasons as to why the restrictions will not be lifted. Until the U.S. is able to lower COVID-19 cases in the country, there will still be limitations.

Alexia Inge

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/10/19/925479699/u-s-borders-with-canada-and-mexico-will-stay-closed-another-month

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