Archive for February, 2021

Global Cooperation of The Far-Right and Keeping Perspective

In his recent editorial piece Eviane Leidig sets out an argument that the far-right in different countries are working to create international networks of cooperation to further support their own national projects.

In this he highlights the strengthening of ties between the European far-right and Indian far-right (Hindu nationalists) which currently holds substantial power in the Indian government under Modhi (Narendra Modhi, Prime Minister of India) and the historical support that Hindu nationalists and the European far-right have had for each other.

Leidig’s article highlights an important fact that some may overlooked. The immediate goals of far-right movements often are not in conflict with differing far-right projects. This was reflected in past in the United States with the collaboration of the Nation of Islam and the National Socialist Party of America to forward their goals of separation of “whites” and “blacks.”

Leidig also helps to remind us that far-right movements are not limited to our cultural understanding of them, meaning how we understand far-right to be synonymous with nazi or European fascist. By doing this we are able to better identify far-right movements and examine their efforts at international cooperation. 

Gabriel Matteson

Taliban keep close ties with Al Qaeda despite promise to U.S.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/taliban-keep-close-ties-al-qaeda-despite-promise-u-s-n1258033

The Afghan Taliban insurgency group has maintained a close relationship with al-Qaeda allowing them to conduct training in Afghanistan and send fighters out with some Taliban forces. This comes after the Afghan Taliban signing an agreement last year in 2020 with the United States to stop the cooperation with or hosting of terrorist groups. According to the UN panel assigned to track terrorist groups in Afghanistan, there is still a close relationship that exists between the two and there is evidence to support the top leadership of al-Qaeda is under protection from the Taliban. It is difficult to determine who belongs to which group when looking at Afghanistan, as they have lived and fought together for a long time. Currently, the U.S. has 2,500 troops in Afghanistan and pledged to pull out the remaining troops by May but the Biden administration has said it hasn’t made a decision and are evaluating whether commitments have been fulfilled. The U.S.-Taliban official agreement requires the Taliban to “send a clear message” to anyone who poses a threat to the security of the U.S. in Afghanistan while preventing terrorist groups from “recruiting, training, and fundraising”. The Taliban officially have said there are no foreign fighters in Afghanistan, which regional analysts have deemed false. I think the Biden administration should pull out of the deal. In my opinion, the Taliban have blatantly violated the deal already by letting al-Qaeda forces conduct training in Afghanistan. The deal plainly states no “recruiting, training, and fundraising” and on top of that, the Taliban have officially stated there are no foreign fighters in the state which is a glaring lie. I don’t think the Biden administration should continue to wait and evaluate whether commitments have been made, accept that the deal is off, and weigh the options of keeping or placing more American troops in Afghanistan.

-Marissa Fedora

Fears of Increasing Nuclear Tensions

There are growing concerns among officials both domestic and international about the state of international nuclear and arms capabilities. Upon his entry to office, Biden has already begun to launch his plans to reinvigorate the US’s alliances to dismantle four years of Trump’s “America First” policy. Right now, we are in a time where many of our mutual arms-control agreements are either weak, like New START with Russia, expired, or the US has pulled out from, Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Iran nuclear deal, and many are concerned that the US has lost credibility amongst its European and Asian allies to protect them from growing nuclear threats. In the past few years, North Korea has come out with new nuclear weapons, China is in the middle of doubling its nuclear stockpile, Russia has modernized its nuclear abilities and continues to work on hypersonic technology. How to approach this matter is being hotly debated between the US military and the Biden Administration. Essentially, the Air Force wants to pursue a $100-billion-dollar plan to update US nuclear missiles but Biden administration officials want to put a hold on pursuing the program. The argument here is that once Biden has renegotiated US arms-control treaties then the military won’t be pressed to immediately renew its arsenal and save the US billions of dollars. The US defense budget is still under and will continue to be under scrutiny for the foreseeable future. From an economic standpoint, the Biden administration has a leg up though Air Force officials are confident that arguments for the nuclear program are strong.

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/11/nuclear-weapons-pentagon-budget-468454

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/10/world/europe/biden-nuclear-weapons-arms-control.html?auth=login-google

Virginia R.

United Nations condemns attacks on Afghan journalists

Last September, the Afghan government and the Taliban began peace talks, negotiations have since stalled. The Biden administration is reviewing a deal that would result in U.S. troops leaving the country by May 2021.

In the past three years, over sixty human rights activists or otherwise media personalities have been killed. In the last four months, eleven people have been killed in apparent contention of talks of peace. It appears as if Afghanistan is experiencing a new level of attacks targeted at these people, as a way to censor them or force them to leave their professions and leave their homes, effectively exercising censorship as well. Though no organization has claimed responsibility on a global stage, the Afghan government has stated that the Taliban is responsible. Whether that is Taliban militants or Islamic State militants operating with the Taliban’s permission is yet to be clear.

The goal of the Taliban is simple, topple the Western-backed government and impose Islamic rule. The result of the reimposition of a Taliban government in Afghanistan would be directly opposed to the interests of the United States. It would mean the sacrifices of those men and women, who died fighting to secure a free Afghanistan would be negated. Per last week, I would advise the administration to not entertain the idea of withdrawing troops as it would all but ensure another attack on American soil.

Cameron W

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/02/1084702

Can Putin Run for Re-election?

President Vladimir Putin has the opportunity to run for re-election once again since his first election in 2000. Since Putin enacted the 2020 constitutional reforms, he has been granted the opportunity to run for president for another two six-year terms. Some sources state that he has not yet decided if he was going to run again, however, in my opinion, Putin would not have enacted that aspect of the constitutional reform if he did not plan on running at least one more time. If Putin does run for re-election, he would have a very good chance of winning since he has so much control over the media in Russia. Usually, whichever candidate has the most control over the Russian media tends to take over most of the advertising. This ultimately leads to an inadequate amount of advertisement for the other candidate which leads to an unfair election. In my opinion, there is no way to stop Russia or Putin from allowing another two terms, yet, it is completely obscene. Without allowing others to run with new ideas and new reforms, there is no room for progress. Without these checks and balances for Russian leaders such as Putin there is no telling how far it will go.

Olivia S.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-putin-presidency/putin-says-yet-to-decide-if-he-will-run-for-president-again-in-2024-idUSKBN28R1J4
https://time.com/5857003/vladimir-putin-russia-fifth-presidential-term/

Ethiopia hires a lobbyist

Tension has been escalating as Ethiopia builds the largest dam in Africa, also known as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Egypt, a country downstream country from the dam, claimed that the dam would impact its freshwater needs and seeking a binding agreement. On the other side, Ethiopia’s position is that the dam is hydroelectric use, and it will not hold the water flow to the downstream countries. Many countries and organizations have shown interest to negotiate the countries involved. Under the Trump administration, the US invited Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt to Washington to negotiate the issue. However, due to America taking sides with Egypt, the negotiation has been suspended. When President Trump said, “Egypt will blow up the dam,” he made it clear that America has taken Egypt’s side. Which eventually lead to the negotiation to be being held by the African Union. In the midst of this, Ethiopia hires a lobbying company to change GERD’s narration, which is dominated by Egypt. According to foreignlooby.com, the Ethiopian embassy in Washington agreed with Venable lobbying company on Feb 1 to reach Congress and the federal government.
Furthermore, the embassy will be paying 35,000 USD monthly, and the contract will be active for the next three months. Though this is long overdue on the Ethiopian side, it will help the country change Egypt’s rhetoric over the GERD and the Ethno-nationalist propaganda within Ethiopia, challenging its stability. The Biden administration should use this opportunity to get a more genuine insight from the Ethiopian side, which will help the administration to undo Trump’s mistake of abandoning an essential ally.

Adonay Teklu

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/ethiopia-denounces-trump-remark-egypt-could-blow-nile-dam-n1244631
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ethiopia-dam-factbox/factbox-key-facts-about-ethiopias-giant-nile-dam-idUSKBN1XG21L

Taiwan’s Passport

At the start of the year, Taiwan changed its passport cover to the words “Taiwan Passport” in bold print. Taiwan’s government claimed that this change was to decrease a coronavirus outbreak by identifying travelers who were coming in or out of Taiwan and China, but this act can also be seen as a political statement. Currently, China considers Taiwan a part of its country, but Taiwan has for years seen and declared itself as its own country. So, China has been using its larger political, military, and economic power to stunt them, showing that Taiwan is in fact part of China. The change in the passport showed not only to China but, to the world that Taiwan is its own country.

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/on-taiwans-new-passport-the-incredible-shrinking-republic-of-china/articleshow/80218023.cms

Canada Designates Proud Boys As A Terrorist Group

The Proud Boy are a far right American hate group whose members expose such opinions as “All the heroes of BLM and Antifa are degenerate criminal lowlifes or pedophile rapists. I don’t lose any sleep when they are justly removed from society.” (1) They frequently communicate white nationalist, anti-Muslim and generally bigoted beliefs and rhetoric.

They once again came into the national (and international) spotlight for their organizational participation in the Capitol Building Protests where members participated in the storming of congress and received direct accolades from former President Donald Trump. (2)

Following this the Canadian government has declared the Proud Boys a terrorist organization and now have the ability to freeze all assets and criminalize membership. (3) This is a direct response to an international hate group which until now had operated freely in the global receiving direct support from former and active government officials.

Not only is this Canada addressing a security threat but also sending the United States a message that it needs to clean up its backyard.

Gabriel Matteson

(1) https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/proud-boys

(2) https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/04/world/meanwhile-in-america-february-4-intl/index.html

(3) https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/04/world/meanwhile-in-america-february-4-intl/index.html

Biden’s Appointment of Kurt Campbell may affect North Korean Foreign Policy

Earlier this year, Biden announced his appointment of Kurt Campbell as the new director of “Indo-Pacific Affairs” at the National Security Council. Campbell played a key role in the Obama administration’s attempt to stop North Korea’s nuclear programs with military pressure and economic sanctions. Campbell has a very distinct view of how allies of the U.S. should act and how to keep North Korea in line. This could be interesting as the Biden administration has put forth statements regarding their intention to pursue more peaceful relations with North Korea. I believe that having differing views for policy advising could benefit the Biden administration but could also hinder their message going forward if it appears that not everyone is on the same page as the mission of the administration which North Korea may not appreciate especially with tensions so strenuous.

Erin M.

https://www.thenation.com/article/world/biden-china-korea-japan/

How Russia Benefited From The Nagorno-Karabakh Compromise

The most recent compromise over the Nagorno-Karabakh region was brokered by Moscow, and the region itself is still guarded by Russian peacekeepers. But Russia, who has long been an ally of Armenia, gave them the short end of the stick here. Why?

One reason may be the shifting of power in the two countries. Azerbaijan has about three times the military budget of Armenia, and Armenia went through a (peaceful) revolution in just 2018 to establish a democratic government. Russia would lose no sleep if that democratic government fell tomorrow. But Armenia needs Russian protection, so Moscow could side with Azerbaijan and get two allies for the cost of one.

What Russia got out of this deal was a chance to act as a peacekeeper, which is good for their international reputation. They got an ally in Azerbaijan and kept ties with Armenia, and showed their ability to leverage countries in this region, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union. While this doesn’t have huge ramifications, it does show the power of Moscow.

But as before, this peace is precarious. The deal lasts for five years, and after that either country can choose to back out. Until then Armenia is still going to be unhappy, and there may still be conflicts. Russia may have gained allies and peace in the region, but there’s no telling how long it will last.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54903869

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