Archive for August, 2021

Historic Talks Between Leaders of Israel and Palestine

Yesterday, August 29, 2021, Israeli Defense minister Benny Gantz met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. This historic meeting was described as “the highest-level meeting between the two sides since the formation of the current Israeli Government.”

 The meeting contents centered around strengthening the Palestinian economy and ensuring the Palestinian Authority’s security role. This morning, Mr. Gantz announced that there will be a 500 million dollar loan to the Palestinian Authority, additional building permits in the West Bank where Israel administers construction, and more work permits for Palestinians seeking employment in Israel. In addition, the Israeli government will legalize Palestinian spouses currently residing in the West Bank.

 By making these decisions, the Israeli government attempts to strengthen its defense against Hamas, which occupies the Gaza strip. Although the US has a long history of involvement with Israel, relations in the region have been tense. The Biden Administration supports the two-state solution, the US stance on the conflict for the past two decades. Versions of the two-state solution are widely supported by the international community, although specifics continue to cause conflict.

The US media mentioned little to nothing about the meeting; however, President Biden urged the Israeli Prime Minister to improve Palestinian lives after clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters days before.  Although it may appear that the changes announced by Gantz today will better the lives of Palestinians, many argue that it is the only option given to the Palestinians and that the only way for their lives to be improved would be an end to Israeli occupation. There are continued efforts by the Palestinians to oppose the Israeli occupation.  The US has had security and resource interests in Israel and the surrounding region, but some argue that those interests have declined in recent years.  Given the decline of US involvement in the middle east and the low probability of true peace between Palestine and Israel, Biden’s administration will continue to advocate for the rights of Palestinians as opposed to the two-state solution directly. 



After US Pullout, China Takes the Middle Path

Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, political chief of Afghanistan's Taliban, in Tianjin, China, in July. Photo: Xinhua

Pictured: Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Political Chief of the Taliban in July of 2021. (Source: Xinhua, SCMP)

Original Article, with other cited articles hyperlinked in-text below.

The United States has been facing the fallout of a war on its deathbed for months now. The Biden administration is taking the brunt of the blame, but the groundwork lain out for a 14-month period of withdrawal gave the Biden Administration little to no choice, and the Taliban just over a full year to prepare. With exception of the Biden Administration themselves, however, it can’t be said that the withdrawal was made any better by a near total lack of logistical preparation by the Administration over the past 7-8 months.

With the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the war in mere weeks, and the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks just before it, the Taliban is now in near-total control of the country that the United States vowed to liberate from them two decades ago. This is not lost on the millions of Afghans now under Taliban rule once again. This is not lost on the American people, not lost on their allies, and certainly not lost on their adversaries.

China is in an interesting spot in all this, however. Celebrating the bruise to the United States’ ego, it also faces issues of its own geopolitical situation sharing a border with the country in question. This was echoed by a high-profile phone conversation between the PRC and the US’s respective top diplomats, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. In the phone call, Wang detailed the need for the international community, including the United States, to “guide [the Taliban] actively.” It is arguing that the Taliban needs to hold true to its promises of “safe passage and freedom to travel for Afghans and foreign nationals”. It describes a willingness to work with the United States, given the US provides China with assurances that its national interests will not be challenged. He concedes slightly, stating, however: “Dialogue is better than confrontation, and cooperation is better than conflict.”

China, as tensions decrease, is all but certain to recognize the new government of Afghanistan. It’s only a matter of time. While looking for more points of political legitimacy beyond the victory against the US, the Taliban understand the value of having a stable relationship with the PRC, calling them “[a] great neighbor,” citing it as a force for peace and economic development.

It’s a shaky peace, with both sides understanding the ramifications should they push too hard and too fast. China will likely offer limited, quiet infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. The Taliban will likely steer away from any kind of political involvement in Xinjiang and focus on domestic development.

Fearing a resurgence of terror and subsequent export of fundamentalist ideology abroad, especially into its own borders, China is currently placing its bets on taking the middle path: degrees of cooperation with the west to curb the Taliban’s more bold actions, while maintaining a relationship with the Taliban to insure stability on its borders, and as a means of legitimizing a defeat of the west.

– Liam

U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan Puts NATO On Shaky Footing

The removal of American military forces from Afghanistan has produced images of a looming humanitarian crisis whose effects will be felt for years to come. While Biden’s decision to end the war is not particularly controversial because a majority of American’s support a U.S. withdrawal, America’s traditional NATO Allies have been upset by the series of unfortunate events which have unfolded over the last few weeks, and by the lack of communication that preceded these events. America’s chaotic exit from Afghanistan marks the beginning of its post War on Terror foreign policy, and it is a destabilizing event for our NATO allies because it places new pressures on them, while simultaneously raising fundamental questions about the purpose of NATO in the 21st century.

As the United States begins shifting its focus toward China and Russia, the age of U.S. dominated NATO missions appears to be waning. While America’s oldest NATO partners in Western Europe have watched the U.S. move from the bipolarity of the Cold War to an era of American hegemony, our newer NATO partners in Central and Eastern Europe have mainly observed American power through the lens of our entanglements in Afghanistan and Iraq. The same conflicts which produced the downstream effects of failed states, mass migration, and Islamic terrorism, which then led to a surge in populism and nativism that has destabilized European and American politics. As such, calls for increased European leadership are becoming more common, as America’s foreign policy faces more scrutiny.

By forging ahead with one of his most important campaign promises, Biden is building on Trump’s pattern of putting American interests first. In doing so, Biden risks unraveling a weakening alliance and losing the credibility he came into office with. For Biden, this presents an opportunity to build American foreign policy back better. In the wake of Afghanistan’s fall, the question is, will NATO be willing to bet on America making a more enlightened return to the world stage?

-Mika Clincy

Iraq attempting to bring the peace.

This past Saturday the country of Iraq held a conference in Baghdad to help begin to ease the tensions arising in the Mideast as well as introducing themselves as the new mediator for the Arab countries and their conflicts. In attendance were the political leaders from Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, and France, the countries of Iran and Saudi Arabia sent their foreign ministers to represent their countries’ interests. The countries met on Saturday to talk about the various issues that the region is facing such as the water crisis and the economic and political crisis in Lebanon. These talks on Saturday were successful in getting the conversation between the countries started, however, the countries were unable to achieve any major breakthrough in the relations between the countries. This meeting on Saturday sent a clear message from Baghdad that the Arab countries stand in a state of solidarity with Iraq who has begun to be pulled into the political orbit of Iran and its conflict with Saudi Arabia. Following years of conflict, Iraq has begun to seek to recover its lost role in the leadership of the Arab world with a policy that is more centrist-based, Iraq is also attempting to keep positive relations with its regional allies as well as Iran and the United States.

Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, and Zeina Karam. “Iraq Brings Together Mideast Rivals in Bid to Ease Tensions.” The Washington Post, 28 Aug. 2021, Accessed 2021.

Ukraine’s Plan to Return Crimea

On August 23, 2021, Ukraine held a summit called “Crimean Platform” attended by more than 40 countries on the issue of returning Crimea to Ukraine. The idea behind it to keep the issue of returning Crimea to Ukraine active in the international community. Ukraine intends to conduct the Crimean Platform summit regularly.

In 2014, following a pro-Russian referendum, Russian forces occupied and successfully annexed Crimea, a Ukrainian territory. In addition, Moscow-backed rebel forces engaged in a war in eastern Ukraine in the region of Donbass against the Ukrainian government. Both of these events followed an internal political crisis in Ukraine caused by protests called the Euromaidan. The Russian government justified its actions in Crimea as “reunifying the historical Russian homeland” and has denied allegations that it supports anti-Ukrainian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine accuses Russia of occupying internationally recognized territory.

More than two and a half million people live in Crimea where Russians are a majority. Crimean Tatars, a Turkic-speaking Muslim community, which makes up 30 percent of the Crimean population, have been living in that region for centuries despite persecution under the Soviet government. In Eastern Ukraine, ethnic Russians are the dominant majority. Seven years after the unrest in Eastern Ukraine Donbass region, more than 13,000 people have died and Ukraine is desperate to bring Donbass back. Anti-Russia rhetoric has been increasing in Ukraine since the Euromaidan, which was caused by President Yanukovych’s refusal to sign a deal with the European Union (EU), a move that angered many Ukrainians who hoped for a better relationship with the EU and the West. Therefore, Russia’s attempt to bring Ukraine under its sphere of influence was met with strong opposition not only in Ukraine, but in the Western world as well. In Kyiv, radical politicians are convinced that Russia’s control of Crimea is temporary and only a war between the two countries would help Ukraine bring Crimea back, moderate politicians in Kiev rely upon diplomacy and believe that non-military efforts by Ukraine and the West will be enough to force Moscow to give up control of Crimea. Another important issue is the rights of the Crimean Tatars in Crimea. After Russian forces occupied Crimea, numerous Crimean Tatar leaders escaped to Ukraine or were arrested on political charges.

It is a tough call for Washington to deal with Ukraine as the issues of occupation are mixed with big corruption in Ukraine and polarization between east and west parts of Ukraine. The Biden administration should encourage more international involvement between Ukraine and the West, increase sanctions against Russia and create a roadmap of accepting Ukraine to NATO. It will give the West and Ukraine enough leverage to make Russia stop supporting separatists in Donbas and bring Crimea one step closer to being returned. Washington also should lead the international community to ensure that minority rights (Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians) are being protected in Crimea.

Mark Volynski


The Afghanistan Crisis Could Lead to Renewed Terror Attacks in Europe

The Afghanistan crisis is impacting different states around the world, including many states in Europe. The Taliban have sworn against terrorism multiple times, but as recent events have made clear they have been unable to stop terrorist threats from operating. The most recent example is that of an ISIS-Khorasan suicide bomber that inflicted a big mass-casualty attack killing thirteen U.S. servicemen and 169 Afghan citizens. The Taliban’s insurgency will have international implications since terrorist organizations see it as an opportunity to expand their global reach. The implications could lead to more terrorist attacks in Europe.

The global impacts of the Afghanistan crisis may become insurmountable if the EU and other organizations do not do more to not only protect their best interests for Europe but those of the Afghan citizens as well. Europe will have to prepare for the inevitable arrival of refugees and needs to create a strategy towards the new regime and focus all resources whether they be domestic, diplomatic, or any geopolitical tool they have at their disposal. 


Keaton Sayers

Japan’s Reaction to the Afghanistan Crisis

Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, Japan, like many of its western allies, has chosen to evacuate its citizens and Afghan allies. Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi has said that Japan plans to finish its evacuation before the August 31st deadline for the U.S troops. So far Japan has gotten out its diplomats in Afghanistan with help from a foreign ally, but stated it would start dispatching its SDF planes in an announcement given on August 23. These actions have caused some problems for Japan as up to 500 people including Japanese citizens are still in Afghanistan waiting to be evacuated as of August 28th. 

Instead of doing this, the Japanese government should have reacted by being one of the first nations to bring planes to Afghanistan for the evacuation. From what I read Japan had fewer people to evacuate as compared to countries such as the US. Had Japan started its own evacuation initially like the United States did there is a chance they would be finished prior to the deadline. Now the Japanese citizens and allies in Afghanistan and SDF personnel being sent to get them are possibly in much more danger than if Japan had acted faster.




Covid-19 and National Security

A modern crisis the world is currently facing is the Covid-19 virus pandemic. This is not only a health crisis, but it is also a national security crisis problem for everyone. After 9/11 happened, there was more money spent on counterterrorism efforts than there has been on pandemic and infectious – disease programs. The country focused more on their lives being threatened by an instant attack of weapons than on an attack of their health. When given a chance to give more detailed information and instructions on how to handle Covid-19 during the start of the pandemic, the president failed to do so. Trump also failed to inform other countries that looked upon us for help and guidance during these trying times. Since America has been shielded and afraid to interact with other countries, these countries have to rely on themselves for survival.  America and other developed countries had small stockpiles of medical equipment but did not share them with other countries, developed or developing, until far into the pandemic.

The pandemic is far in the distance from being over and there still is a fear of national security. Maybe now that we see any threat can impact America, there will be equal money put into different programs to help us in any sort of crisis that may arise. We should ban together with other countries, to help them and protect from not only the pandemic but from any threat to their national security.

– Olivia Lewis


Drone Strikes in Somalia Raise Questions About Broader U.S. Drone Policies

On August 24, the U.S. military conducted an airstrike against al-Shabaab fighters near Cammaara, Somalia. The al-Shabaab fighters were engaged in active combat with Somali government forces, who serve as a partner force to the U.S. military. This strike, as well as similar ones conducted earlier this month, raises questions about what sort of strikes are permitted under the current policy. The Biden administration has been reworking its drone strike policy since Biden’s inauguration in January. During this time, the administration issued a policy directive that any drone strikes outside of battlefield zones needed White House approval. However, within this policy directive, there is an exemption for self-defense. The U.S. military interpreted self-defense to include collective self-defense of partner forces, including the Somali government. As a result, the U.S. conducted its recent drone strikes in Somalia by invoking the self-defense exception rather than by seeking White House approval. Following this, the White House indicated that it was going to further examine the issue of drone strikes, and it raised the possibility that they may tighten standards for which foreign entities can be considered partners. 

The recent drone strikes in Somalia are a pressing issue because it indicates that the Biden administration and the U.S. military have different interpretations of the current U.S. drone policy. It is clear that there needs to be a more coherent and well-defined policy approach, because critical, deadly counterterrorism operations like these should be specifically and narrowly defined. As the Biden administration continues to develop its policy towards drone strikes, it must work with the military to ensure that everyone is on the same page. 



a Modern Relationship- Environmental Degradation and Security

Over the years, the environment has been weaponized, both militarily and politically.  The developments in biological warfare and nuclear weapon technology displays just how destructive mankind can be on the natural environment.  These fears of actively destroying the environment via international conflict, while valid, now appear as less of a threat than the opposite relationship between environment and conflict.


A more modern and immediately threatening relationship between environment and conflict was first contemplated in the 1990s and has certainly come to the forefront of environment/ security consideration as of 2021.  Rather than conflict weaponizing and destroying the environment, focus has turned to the impact of environmental degradation in creating conflict and subsequent security concerns.  Environmental changes, disruptions, and degradation began to be recognized as a significant cause or contributor of conflict and breaches in security, including but not limited to:


Water security/ scarcity, overfishing, resource depletion, air/ water/ land pollution.


When environmental crises such as catastrophic weather events, drought, or flooding occur, the affected peoples seek help from their leadership.  Failure to provide assistance on any basis is often times the result, causing the historically predictable result of civil strife and conflict.  Two modern examples that can be further examined include the Syrian Civil War and Puerto Rico post- hurricane Irma/ Maria in 2017.  Issues such as these will expand over the world as environmental degradation continues and is the most prominent way in which we as humans need to be concerned about the environment- conflict/ security relationship.


-Maddy S


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