Archive for November, 2021

Japan Bolsters Ties with the European Union

In a phone talk on November 29, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the European Council President Charles Michel agreed to work together in order to create a “free and open Indo-Pacific region”. Japan has been wanting to do this due to China increasing its military and economic power, and its attempts to become biggest power in the Indo-Pacific waters. They two leaders also discussed North Korea, and other global topics such as climate change. Additionally, Prime Minister Kishida welcomed the EU’s new steragery made in September for the Indo-Pacific which includes increasing trade and investment in Taiwan.

Over the recent months, Japan has been working on strengthening ties with other like-minded nations for the same reasons discussed in this article. China has been getting more aggressive in the Indo-Pacific waters, so it only benefits Japan and other nations in the region to cooperate with western countries.


Ukraine Remains Worried about Threat of Russian Coup

The Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba announced that Ukraine’s government is still on high alert after discovering that a coup tied to Moscow could happen on December 2. Kuleba also said that Ukraine is still analyzing additional information about the coup as the news was first announced by President Volodymyr Zelensky last week. Zelensky announced that the coup would be tied to a Ukrainian oligarch. Most people point fingers at Rinat Akhmetov, the richest oligarch in Ukraine (who also has a conflict with Zelensky) as being behind the coup. At that same meeting, Kuleba announced that Russia would take more steps to take advantage of Ukraine.

The threat of a coup in Ukraine poses a great security risk for Ukraine, where Russia annexed Crimea and there is a war between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian army. Akhmetov’s alleged involvement in the coup also represents that Zelensky’s government needs to continue fighting corruption to prevent oligarchs from taking power.

For the Biden administration, it is very clear Ukraine needs support. Therefore, Washington should continue what it is doing (economic and security aid) and monitor the situation. the White House should also continue to pressure Russia not to make any moves that could destabilize the region even more.

Mark Volynski


A Final End to the Korean War?

The South Korean President, Moon Jae, recently made changes in the Korean intelligence organization in an effort to bolster his attempts to formally conclude the war with North Korea once and for all.  The war never officially ended in the 50’s as it was only halted under an armistice, not a treaty.  The South Koreans have been working to come up with an end of war declaration that they could pose to the North Koreans to finally end the war.  The South Korean President hopes that if he can formally end the war, then perhaps this will help efforts to denuclearize North Korea.  However, this second stage will of course be even more difficult than ending the war in the first place.

President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech during a ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea at Myeongdong Cathedral in downtown Seoul, Nov. 25. Yonhap

To start, the North Koreans may be resistant to ending the war due to the refusal of the Americans and South Koreans to stop their joint military exercises.  Moon Jae believes that if his country and the US can demonstrate sincerity in their negotiations, perhaps the North Koreans will be more willing to let things slide.  This hope is unlikely though because it has been one of the main sources of conflict in the area.  Additionally, Moon Jae wants the US to declare it does not have a hostile policy towards North Korea meanwhile Biden’s administration has clearly stated its goal to denuclearize the whole country while continuing to engage in military exercises with the South Koreans.  

While it appears on a surface level that these attempts to formally end the war may be optimistic, it is possible that with these new appointments in the intelligence service, this goal is in fact possible.  Going forward in the next couple of weeks, it will be important to monitor when South Korea finalizes its declaration to end the war and how the North Koreans respond to it.  Perhaps it will indeed be a step in the right direction towards the denuclearization of North Korea.

Daniel Walker

United States Plans To Drop South American Terrorist Group

Recently within the Biden administration, the United States has explained they plan to drop the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) from the United States terrorist watch list. This removal comes after FARC was on this list for about five years. FARC has been around since the start of the 1960’s and took part in actions such as kidnappings and executions. Furthermore, these actions were carried out on thousands of people and that is including Americans as well. With FARC being dropped from the United States watch list, this opens the door for the United States to engage and work with these members who look to reengage into society after being helped by social programs.

New US Ambassador to Israel

Thomas Nides, the new US ambassador to Israel, started his assignment this week. In a Twitter post and video released from his COVID-19 quarantine, the ambassador reminisced on his first trip to Israel in addition to mentioning the close relationship between Israel and the United States. However, he made no mention of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Nides, an American banker, formally served in various positions within the Democratic Party, including  United States Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources under the Obama administration.  Nides’ appointment to the post was confirmed by the Senate at the beginning of November, during a hearing in which he vocalized his support for the Abraham accords and opposition to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. In addition, his arrival comes after Israel opposed the US promise to reopen the consulate in East Jerusalem, which was closed during the previous administration. With these things in mind, it is unlikely that there will be any significant changes to the status quo, mainly because Biden, and house representatives, have been historically pro-Israel, and have demonstrated that through verbal and increased financial support.

Status quo of the DoD’s responses to sexual assault

In the early 2000s, the Department of Defense introduced restrictive reporting for means of reporting sexual assault within the military. This, therefore, allowed for two main ways for survivors to report their assault: restricted and unrestricted reporting. According to the Department of Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response [SAPR], command and law enforcement are notified under unrestricted reporting while restricted or confidential reporting allows survivors to “access healthcare, advocacy services, and legal services without the notification to command or law enforcement.”  Thus, the status quo altered throughout the 2000s in order to increase survivors’ abilities to report incidence(s) of assault. However, the dated language within this and other policies exemplify the ineffectiveness of the DoD’s response to the situation. Rather than incorporate the widely utilized term survivor,  the term victim is continuously used to describe individuals who have faced an assault. This ultimately exemplifies the DoD’s lack of evolution in addressing sexual assault within the overall military.

-Keegan H Fredrick

Russia says 27 more Diplomats will leave America in January

Russia says that 27 Russian diplomat will leave America in January. Russia’s embassy in America has been shrinking since 2016. The US embassy in Moscow has also shrunk in recent years which has limited its capabilities. The shrinking in size of the embassy for both countries have been due to to the relationship between America and Russia becoming worse in the past few years.

I think that this will lead to America’s and Russia’s relationship becoming worse. This lack of staff in embassies limits their abilities to try and improve relations with each other. This likely detrition of relationship could lead to Russia having improved relations with countries that do not like America. This detrition could also lead to countries that do not Russia to have improved relations with America.


Shortage of Healthcare Workers

Currently, around the world there is a shortage of healthcare workers due to the pandemic and short staffing, along with various other reasons. The WHO estimates “a shortfall of 18 million health workers by 2030, …” (para 2). Health systems can only survive and thrive with healthcare workers. However, currently healthcare workers are being overworked and are exhausted from the strain that was put on the healthcare systems from the pandemic. Seeing people die in front of you every single day not only takes a toll on you mentally but physically.

There is also a decrease of healthcare workers in many third world countries. This is due to the education access that is available to the people that live in these areas. There is under-investment in education and training available for citizens to utilize. This is not only a problem for the United States but also for low-income countries. The WHO states, “In some countries, challenges in universal access to health workers may also result from the lack of capacity by the public sector to absorb the supply of health workers due to budgetary constraints. As a result, some countries face the paradox of health worker unemployment co-existing with major unmet health needs,” (para 5). It is evident that almost every country has an unmet need of healthcare workers to make their healthcare systems run smoothly.

This is a concern for human and health security because if someone were to become ill there may be nowhere to turn to due to the shortage of workers. This could also leave people coming or leaving the United States to find a healthcare system that will meet their urgent needs which in turn leads to the potential of widespread illnesses.

-Olivia Lewis


Climate Change- the Biggest Challenge Facing the U.S. Power Grid

The power grid in the United States is aging and struggling to meet current demand, and is facing a future serving more people.  But this increase in population is not the biggest threat to the power grid.  Rather, effects of climate change pose a threat to the function of the grid.

The recently passed infrastructure package dedicates billions to updating the energy grid- both through digitization and investing in making it more resistant to extreme weather events- which increase in severity and frequency as climate change continues.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy plunged the city into darkness after the storm surge exceeded the predicted maximum of 12 feet.  In 2021, millions were left without power as a result of historic snowstorms in Texas, an extreme heatwave in the Pacific Northwest, and Hurricane Ida along the Gulf Coast.

That raises the question: can the amount of money dedicated to the power grid in the new infrastructure legislation ($65 billion) actually make meaningful changes nationwide? Unfortunately, this funding only scratches the surface.  According to a World Resources Institute analysis, only $27 billion would see the power grid, most of which will be used for research and demonstration projects as some ways to get started.  This is better than nothing, but considering the momentous challenges that are being faced, it does not provide the necessary magnitude.

-Maddy S


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Polish President Calls For Response From NATO Allies


Russia is continuing to buildup its military near the Ukrainian border. In response, Polish President Duda has requested that NATO deploy more troops to the East. The US and other NATO allies have issued warnings to Russia thus far, but not much more. On Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, went as far as to say that use of force by Russia against Ukraine would be met with “consequences”. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected in Latvia this week for high level talks with alliance members. Russia’s intentions toward Ukraine are expected to be the focus.

It’s good that NATO is taking this threat seriously and being vocal in its support for Ukraine. But it’s important that we not repeat the “red line” fiasco with President Obama in Syria. Relations between Russia and NATO have suffered severely in the last few months and the credibility of NATO’s threats must not be further undermined. Especially, not by its own inability or unwillingness to back up its threats.


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