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The Hemispheres News Digest

This Week in International Relations: October 11th-17th 

What’s Happening with the TTP?

Now that the United States is close to securing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP for short, a trade agreement encompassing American and Asian states aimed at reducing trade barriers and tariffs), attention is shifting to America’s other coast, where another trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), is being worked out with the European Union. Planned for next year, the TTIP mirrors some of the policies of the TPP, as well as its secrecy, but is focused on removing regulations. Some argue that the TTIP is beneficial, citing the deal’s its incentives for business and trade abroad during a period of decline in world trade (Pro-TTIP). Opponents, however, see the TTIP as harming European jobs and standards, as well as granting corporations power equal to those of countries (Anti-TTIP). For these reasons, citizens opposed to the TTIP are now protesting across Europe. From Spain to Bulgaria, Poland to Belgium, Europeans have been voicing their opinions, yet in Berlin, Germany at least 100,000 have come out to protest against the TTIP (Protest).

(Source: The Guardian)

North Korean Nationalism Continues 


On October 10th, North Korea celebrated its 70th Anniversary as a state. Along with all the fanfare and pageantry, Kim Jung Un announced his country’s preparation for war should the “American Imperialists” strike (Speech). North Korea’s modern military technology, including its drones and missiles, were on display, but this celebration is incomparable to that of China’s last month to commemorate their victory in World War II (Parade) yet only China sent a dignitary to the festivities . While dignitaries across the world visited China on this occasion, only a senior member of the Chinese poliburo came to North Korea this saturday. But this gesture, along with others, demonstrate China’s continued backing of the rogue nation.

(Source: BBC)

Putin’s Diplomacy 


Vladimir Putin continued to increase his role in the Syrian conflict this past week in a meeting with one of America’s key allies in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia. Putin and the Saudi Arabian Defense Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Salmin, met this Sunday and discussed how to best combat the Islamic State. Although no concrete plans emerged from the meeting, Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed on more mutual cooperation between the two nations – not merely in military advances, but also potentially along economic lines. While Saudi Arabia and Russia disagree on the nature of the post ISIL Syria, Russia’s expansion into a previously American sphere of influence will only harm american interests.

(source: rt)

Eradicating Ebola 


For the first time since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa began, an entire week has passed since any new recorded cases have occurred. This marks a milestone since the outbreak began in March 2014. While there are still citizens being held in quarantine or receiving treatment, WHO officials are hopeful that this is a turning point in the eradication of Ebola from west africa.

The Difficulty of Spreading Democracy through Foreign Imposed Regime Changes: Implications for Political Order and Marginalized Populations

Democratic Foreign Imposed Regime Changes (FIRCs), are the FIRCs that uproot an existing authoritarian regime and replace it with a democracy. Though many democratic FIRCs have occurred, few have succeeded. There are three reasons why democratic FIRCs often fail. First, target countries of FIRCs generally have little to no prior experience with democracy. Second, after the FIRC, the population equates the new government with foreign oppressiveness. Third, FIRCs disproportionately target poor, unstable countries that do not yet have good foundations for democracy. In addition, high levels of economic development in the country prior to the FIRC are favorable conditions for why some FIRCs succeed. Future research on FIRCs should focus on addressing how foreign aid can increase FIRC success rates in poor countries. Moreover, how endogenous democratization happens in countries should be studied, especially in countries transitioning to middle income status, like China. Finally, a theory of FIRCs should depend on a theory of democracy, so studying what democracy properly is and how it is sustained is a new frontier for studying FIRCs.

Mason Ji is a junior at Yale University studying Global Affairs. Read his full paper here.

U.S Policy on Negotiations: Undermining International Law

On September 20, 2001, United States President George W. Bush declared war on global terrorism in reaction to the largest attack on U.S. soil since the country’s independence. The declaration launched the country into a new type of warfare, fought not against a sovereign state and not bound by the confines of international borders. As a result, this new type of conflict has demanded a reexamination of many U.S. policies, specifically the country’s principal to refrain from negotiating with terrorist organizations.

Since the commencement of the War on Terror the accuracy of the country’s policy on non-negotiation has come under increasing scrutiny. Despite its statements, the U.S. has negotiated with states that have sponsored terrorism, individual perpetrators, and internationally recognized terrorist groups. Bruce Hoffman, Director of Georgetown University’s Center of Security Studies, insists, “The refrain ‘we do not negotiate with terrorists’ is repeated as a mantra more than a fact. Since the War on Terror began, the lack of clear action to support this rhetoric has been undeniable” (Gomez). By continuing to support the stance in official policy, however, the U.S. is forced to conduct the transactions in secretive and nonpublic avenues. Rather than upholding an image of strength against terrorist ideology, this only serves to lessen American credibility in an international setting.

Almost fourteen years after President Bush’s declaration, the United States must acknowledge that the creation of a world where one should negotiate with belligerent nation states but not with other forms of opposition is an unfeasible one. Mediation and negotiation have been necessary since the beginning of modern warfare and are even more crucial as the stakes of armed conflict and violent global destruction rise. The very basis of the international ideology that the U.S. champions today demands the recognition and acknowledgement of the opposition and their causes, diplomatic efforts of cultural and ideological understanding, and negotiation to resolve conflict as peacefully as possible. The United States must merge its allegiance to negotiations and diplomacy with the acknowledgement that a new era of warfare is conducted against terrorist groups: a policy demanding non-negotiation and inaction ultimately fails to recognize the nature of 21st century conflict.

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The EU’s Failed Solution to an Immigration Problem

Europe has been dealing with an immigration crisis for more than five years now. With migrants leaving their native countries for a variety of reasons including war, famine and human rights abuses, many have turned to human traffickers to help them get across the Mediterranean to Europe. The final destination for the intrepid many, after this perilous journey, is Italy.

Every day in Italy, hundreds of migrants make the journey from Libya to the small island of Lampedusa, in search for a better life. According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 3,200 migrants lost their lives trying to reach Europe by sea last year alone. Until September 2014, Italy had a program called Mare Nostrum to help these migrants make it to Italy safely. Migrants make the voyage from the shores of Libya by paying off human trafickers, who promise the migrants a place in a dinghy which is often unsafe and overcrowded. Mare Nostrum, run by the Italian Navy, was created after the terrible 2013 shipwreck that killed 300 migrants. The Italian Navy would send ships to meet dinghies off the coast of Libya and to safely transport the migrants to Italy, minimizing the deaths and hardships that the migrants would have had to otherwise undergo. It cost about nine million Euros per month and was completely financed by the Italian government, despite pleas to the European Union by the Italian Prime Minister. Due to the high influx of immigrants and lack of funds this program soon came to an end. According to the EU, Mare Nostrum was a program that encouraged migrants to make the journey since they knew that the Italian Navy would help them.

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‘Grexit’ may not be a word that many have heard before, but it has become increasingly more discussed in the past couple of days. A Grexit, or a Greek exit from the Eurozone, is what may happen now that Greece has elected a new prime minister who wants to cut back on austerity measures and to renegotiate Greece’s debts.

On Sunday January 25th, Alexis Tsipras, the head of Greece’s left wing Syriza party, was elected Prime minister. Tsipras gained widespread popularity throughout Greece because of his promises that he would drastically reduce the austerity measures that have led to recession and high levels of unemployment throughout Greece. The measures, which resulted in the GDP shrinking 19% since 2010 and in unemployment rising to 25%, have not significantly contributed to the reduction of the national debt, which has risen—Greece’s debt as a share of GDP is now 176%.

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Where is China Headed?

Less than a century ago, the West was an unquestioned, dominant, and formidable power that arguably stood tall over the rest of the world. The Age of Imperialism set up the perfect playing ground on which both the European continent and the United States were able to directly assert their dominance over many of the Eastern nations. Remember when some of the Western nations divided China into spheres of influence in the early twentieth century? I think it’s fair to say now that the tide has turned, or is at the very least, turning. Here’s why:

China has established itself as an economic superpower over the course of the 21st century. As China is gaining more power and, arguably, respect, China is also taking actions that largely resemble actions taken by nations during the age of imperialism. According to an article from The Economist, Africans are growing increasingly wary about authoritarian China’s presence in Africa. China is Africa’s biggest trading partner, so it makes sense, unfortunately, that the China’s presence in Africa is driven, arguably, solely by the economic prospects that result from controlling Africa. It seems as though China is looking on to growing more and more imperialistic, which is clearly evident with President of China’s Xi Jin ping plan to invest at least 250 billion dollars in Latin America. I think it’s safe to say that China has been getting a taste of what it feels like to be an imperialist power, but unfortunately for the rest of the world, it’s becoming more evident that China is using its powers to benefit itself. China is often not helpful in restoring order or helping the political systems of African nations; rather, China is more concerned with making sure that is able to better its own economy.

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Syria’s New Export: Western culture

Over the summer, the Louvre Museum housed an exhibition promoting its new branch, the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Among the classical artifacts, Hindu idols, and paintings hailing from all over the world collected for the “birth” of the satellite museum laid a 13th century Qur’an excerpt from Syria. Though the manuscript is foreign to France, it is lucky to be in the hands of the Louvre museum and free from the chaos still dominating its original home. While the Qur’an might have been spared from destruction, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is digging, selling, and obliterating the cultural heritage of Syria.

The Islamic State, or IS, declared their caliphate in the summer of 2014 amid fighting between Bashar-Al-Assad’s Syrian government and opposition forces in the Syrian Civil War. Though IS has many enemies, Western and Muslim, and has been designated by many as a terrorist group, the caliphate has made remarkably more progress in achieving their aims compared to other organizations. This is partly due to overseas financial contributions to their cause and effective recruitment techniques, but also because of the group’s ability to recognize economic demands. Just as the IS have utilized the oil fields of Iraq and Syria, so too have they tapped into the Hellenic and Western artifacts buried in their lands to fuel their expanding theocracy.

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