Category Archives: Foreign Policy

“Appeasement,” Political Timing, and the Iran Deal

For the next several weeks and months, lawmakers and policy experts in the United States will be debating the various merits and disadvantages of the recently-announced deal between the United States, along with several of its negotiating partners, and the Islamic Republic of Iran to have the latter nation take certain steps to curb the development of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. The proposed deal has yet to undergo the necessary ratification by the United States Congress, and the New York Times has published a piece that briefly summarizes and explains the key components of the agreement.

It goes without saying that the discussion about the Iran deal by both public figures in America, and the American public in general, has occasionally been influenced by hyperbole that borders on the obscenely outrageous.

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Rand Paul’s Political Tightrope

Photo Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Photo Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Among libertarian circles, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is like royalty. On the one hand, being the son of long-time libertarian icon Ron Paul, the senator has the feeling of an heir apparent; on the other hand, having been swept into office by the Tea Party wave of 2010, Rand Paul has also radiated the sort of rebellious insurgency that can electrify a crowd on the campaign trail. Despite his relatively short time on the national stage, Sen. Paul has become a widely-recognized politician, and one of the top tier potential candidates for his party’s presidential nomination in 2016. According to a recent RealClearPolitics polling average, Paul is in third place in the Republican presidential horse race, behind only New Jersey governor Chris Christie and former Florida governor Jeb Bush. This is perhaps the ideal political position for the Kentucky senator; he doesn’t have the target on his back that a frontrunner would, while the current frontrunners in the GOP race have significant liabilities, like “Bridgegate” and the Bush family name. And Sen. Paul doesn’t seem content to rely only on his father’s base at the far-flung fringes of the Republican Party; Politico wrote that Paul “has made a concerted move from the political fringes over the past year; now he’s on a mission to remake his party, too.”

And yet, it’s this very “move from the political fringes” that may prove politically problematic for Sen. Paul. In 2010, he won office in part due to an unwavering commitment to “principles,” and now, Paul’s observers are noting changes in the senator’s political positions that are more than just slight. In 2012 GOP primary, eventual nominee Mitt Romney faced criticism for what many perceived as “flip-flopping”; is Rand Paul setting himself up for similar problems?

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“A New Scramble for Africa?: China, the U.S., and Africa” by Tyler Hooper

Credit: CNN
Credit: CNN

Recently, President Obama announced that approximately 100 American troops have been stationed in Niger, a neighbour to Mali in West Africa, to set up a new drone base for Predator surveillance. Mali is currently involved in a civil war, which has attracted foreign intervention. In January, France invaded Mali to assist the government in its quest to repel the Islamist rebels who disrupted recent elections. Accordingly, the U.S. supported the invasion and recent American involvement has led some to ask: Is this the beginning of a foreign policy shift in U.S. interests? With the U.S. out of Iraq and in the process of pulling out of Afghanistan some believe that Africa will now become a primary focus of U.S. global relations. Finally, with China leading the way in foreign investment in the region, some have begun to speculate that the U.S. is attempting to compete in the region thus creating a “new scramble for Africa.” Continue reading “A New Scramble for Africa?: China, the U.S., and Africa” by Tyler Hooper

Speak No Evil: Censorship in China

 On Monday, August 1, 2011, the Xinhua news agency entered the most famous marketing forum in the world: Times Square. According to the New York Times, the Chinese company acquired a sixty foot by forty foot LED sign, in a prominent position in the Square. Yet, few who have seen the news agency’s ads on its new superscreen know the real story behind Xinhua. This “news agency” takes its cues from its owner, the propaganda department of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing. Therefore, Xinhua does not demonstrate objectivity in areas that are sensitive to its propagandist masters, like Taiwan and Tibet. According to a recent Newsweek/Daily Beast article, “In Xinhua’s world, the Tiananmen Square massacre never happened.” Continue reading Speak No Evil: Censorship in China