Do Americans Care About the World Anymore?

I was reading a Foreign Policy blog post this morning when I came upon a startling fact: international issues are a priority for less than two out of ten Americans. More than eight out of ten, on the other hand, cited domestic policy as their number one voting issue.

The findings, from a Washington Post-ABC News poll, got me thinking: do Americans care about the world anymore? Have domestic hot button issues — underemployment, slow or negative job growth, immigrationgay rights, contraception and reproductionOccupy YouNameIt — taken over the political main stage and left the burning issues of the international landscape — fraudulent Russian elections, the Syrian crackdown, European disintegration, the transition of the Libyan government, clashes in Somalia, the DRC, and Sudan, to name a few — high and dry? And maybe, dare I say it, could that be a good thing for the United States?

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Filed under 2012 Election, Economics, Human Rights, U.S Foreign Policy, U.S. Politics

Standardized Testing for Presidential Candidates

Standardized testing has become a fact of life for students. To get accepted to Wes, we all took SATs and SAT IIs or ACTs and often AP tests or IB tests, not to mention an alphabet soup of state specific tests. Seniors preparing for further academic work are studying for or taking their GREs or LSATs or MCATs. These are not all that admissions offices look at – they are weighed alongside recommendations, grades, interviews, personal statements and more – but they provide one gauge of an applicant’s ability and readiness for school. After following the last few months of presidential primary season and attempting to prepare myself for the upcoming year of elections (yes, really, there’s another 11 months of this), I am increasingly of the opinion that we need to create another test, which I have provisionally named the PC GIT, or Presidential Candidate’s General Information Test.

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Filed under 2012 Election, General Info, U.S. Politics

Dictator on Trial: Gbagbo at the ICC

It’s official: Laurent Gbagbo is the first head of state to be sent to the International Criminal Court at the Hague. He is currently being charged with crimes against humanity, murder, and rape — the allegedly systematic attacks committed in the four months after Gbagbo refused to admit defeat to his long-time rival, Alassane Outtara, in the Ivory Coast’s 2010 elections. But the story is far more complex than just that. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Human Rights

What Should We Do With The Kyoto Protocol?

The annual U.N. climate talks, this year COP-17, began five days ago in Durban, South Africa. The major question this year is what we should do with the Kyoto Protocol, which is set to expire in 2012. John Prescott, former U.K. labor minister and one of the leading delegates at the Kyoto negotiations, is calling for the Durban delegates to “stop the clocks” on the Protocol, enabling the mechanisms to continue while a new international accord is reached. The UK’s former chief scientist, Sir David King, argues that the Protocol should be abandoned and in its place should be introduced a “muscular bilateralism”, whereby nations commit to voluntary emissions reductions in cooperation with each other.

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Filed under Climate Change, Environment, U.S Foreign Policy

Burmese Democratization: Slow but Steady Change

Rewind to Burma (otherwise known as Myanmar) in 2010. The government was ruled by an iron-fisted military junta, the democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was being wrongfully held under a 20-year-long house arrest, and the general elections were declared fraudulent by the United Nations and a variety of Western nations, including the United States. But, with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton visiting the nation and speaking with Suu Kyi yesterday, how is democracy faring in the Southeastern Asian country today? Continue reading

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Filed under Asia, Human Rights

Does a Senate-Passed Bill give the Military too much Power?

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill 61 to 37 to require the U.S. Military to take control of all suspected terrorist arrested overseas and now, in the United States. The bill also allows the Military to hold detainees in Military custody indefinitely, and without the guarantee of a trial.

Now I know that Guantanamo Bay concerns dramatically died down a few years ago, but this new bill definitely raises some worries. First, yes, we are at war and the treatment of suspected terrorists is murkier. However, there remain clear international laws , including but not limited to the Geneva Conventions on the Treatment of Prisoners, that stipulate how a prisoner is meant to be treated. Does the United States have the right to hold suspects for an unlimited amount of time and without a trial? My guess is that many lawyers and human rights activists would argue that these rules are inhumane and illegal. I would argue that treating suspects this way in the United States could elicit similar treatment overseas of American prisoners, and the U.S. would not longer have an argument about reciprocal treatment on its side. Continue reading

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Filed under Human Rights, Middle East, North America, U.S Foreign Policy

Not with a Whimper but a Bang

            Almost two months ago I posted an entry decrying the shift in American politics from a focus on unemployment to one on the debt and inflation.  Aside from a parenthetical reference to the troubles in Europe I focused upon the unfortunate changes in the United States.  Now with the possibility of a break-up of the Euro seeming ever more likely by the day lets look at the role of ideological inflation hawks in creating the present situation.  In April and July the European Central Bank (ECB) raised its benchmark interest rate 25 basis points (0.25%) due to its fears of increased inflation above its Euro zone target level of 2% (never mind the fact that others were arguing that the apparent rise in prices was simply a temporary commodity blip).  At the same time new governments in Europe (and in the United Kingdom) pushed for what they called “expansionary austerity.”  Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, Europe