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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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Boko Haram

Much of the world has focused its attention on Paris this past week, but the terrorist group Boko Haram is still continuing to wreak havoc in Nigeria. Boko Haram was founded in 2002 by Mohammed Yousef, and it was initially a peaceful protest with extremist ideas. However, the death of Yousef in 2009 has led Boko Haram to resort to extreme means of violence, and they use that violence toward their goal of turning the presently religiously diverse Nigeria into an Islamic state. The group believes that modernization leads to corruption, and therefore wish, essentially, to establish a state in which they can turn back the clock. Boko Haram became especially infamous worldwide when they kidnapped over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls last April, whom they planned to use as suicide bombers.

Many people around the world might know Boko Haram because of the “#Bringbackourgirls” campaign that was prevalent last April. Celebrities and political figures, including Michelle Obama, participated in the social media campaign in the hope that it would lead to the return of the kidnapped schoolgirls. The campaign brought the kidnapping to the attention of the corrupt government, who, for 19 days, either failed to realize or simply did not care that their citizens had been kidnapped. However, while the campaign pressured the Nigerian government to act, it did not end up helping in the end. Countries like France, Israel, and the USA sent military advisors to assist Nigeria in bringing back their girls, but were unable to enact any change because all aid would be swallowed up by the corrupt government. The advisors were also worried that if they worked with the Nigerian government, they could potentially be working with a government that was also committing human rights offenses.

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Repairing the Irreparable: Germany and other Formerly-oppressor States’ Duty to Institutional Memorialization

The state of Germany and other formerly oppressor states have a duty to devote public resources to institutional memorialization. Memorialization is commemorating or preserving the memory of any event, in this case, the Holocaust, one of the most significant mass atrocities in history.

These states should have this duty because by institutionalizing the public resources, they are acknowledging their wrongs, are not in denial of the past, and are showing courage and maturity by facing history. Institutional memorialization can be a means of reparative justice. The survivors can view this as justice since memorialization is essentially a public display and acknowledgement of the victims’ suffering. For example, if a survivor of the Holocaust were to see a memorial established to honor the victims, he or she may feel psychological liberation and gratitude. This form of reparative justice may be more satisfying than a financial compensation. It will be more effective in the long run since it entails public understanding, contrasting with financial compensation, which may be satisfying only for a short-term.

The state of Germany and other formerly-oppressor states should not establish institutional memorialization because they feel forced to or because they feel the world expects it from them. It certainly is their duty; however, it should come from within and they should feel the responsibility of their actions, and the gravity of the damage they caused. Read more