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CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS, TRENDS & IDEAS

Scott A Snyder

Scott A. Snyder – Korea as a Middle Power

While South Korea has become a major economic power, it is surrounded by far larger players in Asia. It may never be able to play a leading role in shaping both regional and international affairs, but is currently looking for ways to assert itself on the global stage. These aspirations are typical of what scholars define as a Middle Power – an international actor that is neither small nor large.

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John Kerry Iran Foreign Minister

One Step Forward, No Steps Back: Changing the U.S.-Iranian Relationship

On July 14, 2015, after endless hours of tense negotiations, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCAP) was unveiled to the world.  In the United States, it was hailed as a victory for the non-proliferation regime while others expressed frustration at the number of capitulations the U.S. had made. But the more optimistic supporters of the deal celebrated the rapprochement and suggested a possibility for closer American-Iranian ties. Unfortunately, mere days after the conclusion of the agreement, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Khomeini, Supreme Leader of Iran, squashed any hopes of more cooperation. Sumitha Kutty, an Associate Research Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, offers a very cogent analysis of the prospects of improved relations here. Put simply, the outlook for true détente is grim. The U.S.-Iranian relationship is scarred by two major events. The first is the 1953 coup d’état engineered by the CIA and the British SIS. In response to the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, the U.S. deposed and replaced the popularly elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh with the pro-Western monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. The second event was the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). During this long and bloody conflict, the United States supported…

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The Precariat – When Insecurity Dominates

Economics/Politics by

Only one in four people in the work force worldwide have a secure job with a permanent contract. The remaining three-quarters are employed “on temporary or short-term contracts, working informally without contract, self-employed, or in unpaid family jobs,” according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). As a graduate student, finding this out has done nothing to allay fears of becoming gainfully employed after graduating, although quite frankly, and perhaps more depressingly, the findings are not exactly surprising. The post-crisis era has seen a marginal recovery in some economies, but job creation is slow and the actual jobs being created are only designed for part-time employment. Temporary jobs, albeit inherently insecure, are not all bad; they are the first jobs people go into after graduating to get a foothold in their desired career. There used to be the expectation of guaranteed progress towards a more permanent position. These expectations are now laughable. The financial crisis has forced people who were laid off from these permanent positions to pick up whatever odd jobs they could find to support themselves—a step down from which it is still hard to recover from even now. This lack of security, combined with the lack of a…

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Rafael Correa Yi Xinping

China in Latin America: Sister Country or Neo-Colonialist?

Ever since the end of the 15th century, Latin America has been seen by outsiders overwhelmingly as a place rich in natural resources. In the 21st century, the most recent outsider, China, is as hungry for its raw materials as any other previous power. It needs Argentinian agricultural products for its fisheries and pig farms to feed its growing middle class. It needs Bolivian and Peruvian iron and copper to continue building its manufacturing industries, and Ecuadorian and Venezuelan oil to fuel them. Past encounters with foreign powers in Latin America reveal a patter of resource extraction and economic dependency that benefited primarily the outside power and the local elite. Some, most notably Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in the region say that relations with China will be different, that China is a partner and a sister country, not an imperialist outside power. These optimists are hoping for a reinvention of the relationship between resource hungry outside powers and natural resource rich nations in the region. Unfortunately, Chinese recent forays into the region appear to be mirroring this tragic historical pattern.

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Bedouin Israel Child

Israel’s Other Human Rights Catastrophe: The Negev Bedouin

The plight of the Negev Bedouin continued as Israel’s Supreme Court recently ruled that the village of Umm al-Hiran would be destroyed and its inhabitants removed to make way for Israeli settlers. The NGO Human Rights Watch criticized the ruling, which also applied to a similar village in the West Bank, with its Middle East and Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson stating “The court decisions in the Umm al-Hiran and Susya cases ignore international law in upholding discriminatory evictions by the Israeli authorities in Israel and the occupied territories”.

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The Business of Death

The Chinese life insurance market has grown exponentially since the start of the millennium. Now the fifth largest life insurance market globally, sales have risen from 98 billion yuan in 2000 to 994 billion yuan in the first half of 2014. What perhaps makes this feat more impressive is not only the speed at which the market has expanded, but also the success of being able to market such a product in a culture where discussing death used to be completely taboo. To understand what exactly happened here, we need to rewind the clock a bit, and add a little contextual color. Just as the phrase “to have a good life” can mean multiple things, “a good death” is equally as ambiguous. In the west, Christian cultures in particular view death as a promise (or threat) of an afterlife, depending on how you act during your earth-bound existence. In China, where Confucian values are heavily embedded into culture, the subject of death is rarely discussed mainly due to its ambiguity, and it is almost always negatively portrayed. As if mystifying it wasn’t enough, Taoist beliefs measure how good a death is based on its timing and nature—anything other than dying…

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manchester united china fans

Bringing Football to Asia

Chinese president Xi Jinping has set his country’s national football team three targets to aim for: qualify for the FIFA World Cup, host it, and win it. Football has even been made compulsory in national schools, and projects for the construction of sports grounds have been passed swiftly to ensure the country can achieve its hat trick. As amusing as it may sound, Xi is by no means in the minority when he expresses his obsession and hopes for the sport. The hype over football has reached new heights, especially since the commercial success of January’s Asian Cup, a strong indicator of the game’s popularity across the continent of 4 billion. When the national teams aren’t playing however, the majority of attention is given to overseas European football rather than local teams. Worldwide interest has skyrocketed over the past decade and a half due to weekly coverage in mass media and on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, connecting fans on both national and international levels to these teams. But why is European football especially popular in Asia? For the English Premier League alone there are an estimated 820 million supporters in Asia, according to sports research company Repucom.…

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Lima Peru City

Decentralization Process in Peru

Ideally the modern state is supposed to generate the necessary basic conditions for its citizen’s wellbeing and continuously improve its own systems in order to improve its citizen’s quality of living. The globally trending prescription to achieve these aims is decentralization and local governance. Several countries, such as Korea, Brazil, Thailand, Uganda, Indonesia, and Peru, among others, have all recently tried to strengthen local governments. In larger countries and countries with diverse populations, such as Peru, it is especially necessary to disseminate the central government’s power and authority to local and regional governments. In that way, each sub-government can communicate with citizens directly and can serve them faster and more efficiently. According to The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Peru has developed its GDP 5.2% in the past 10 years. In addition, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI) shows an increased HDI rate from 0.67 in 2002 to 0.73 in 2012. However, the problem that Peru faces is that the development of the country did not happen evenly in each region, but is rather predominantly concentrated in Lima, the capital of the country and the location of the central government. It would…

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Blaming Europe and Arresting Smugglers Will Not Solve the Mediterranean Migrant-Crisis

The United Nations estimates 60,000 people have tried to cross the Mediterranean this year. Nearly 2,000 have died this year trying to reach Europe from Africa. This is a 20-fold increase for the same time period in 2014 where fewer than 100 perished at sea. 800 of these deaths occurred in the middle of April off the coast of Libya when a fishing trawler collided with a Portuguese container ship. The current lack of law and order in Libya has led to a situation where no state entity is able to control territory, borders – and or sea. As such, hordes of smuggling gangs have manifested and acted with impunity. Migrants hoping to reach Europe are often told they are purchasing a seat on a “big boat.” More often than not, however, what is waiting is a small dinghy where they are forced to enter at gunpoint. Those who refuse are reported to be shot. Before boarding, migrants are held prisoners on a farm for weeks and sometimes even months before departure where reports have emerged of abuse, beatings, sickness, starvation, and death. Survivors of the accident mentioned above claim the smugglers wanted to fit 1,200 people on the 66-foot boat. Those…

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ISILationism, Part 3: Eventual Endgame or Endless Games?

In case you missed it be sure to check out the first and second part of the series, ISILationism, Part 1 and ISILationism, Part 2! A question that must be asked when confronting Fundamental Islam is: where and when have terrorism and insurgencies faltered, ultimately failed, and reached complete fallout? The answer, as should be known, is: nowhere and not yet! Salafi Jihadism, under the guise of some newly emerged radical Islam, has been an overt force in the world since the beginning of our current millennium, with no tangible sign for the hopeful demise of its existence. Al-Qaida rose from obscurity after the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York City to a globally renown, expertly organized network promoting the destruction of the “far enemies” in order to universally advent Sharia Law. This organization, however, has diminished in power and overall capabilities through the relentless strategies and countermeasures conducted by the United States to successfully subvert Al-Qaida. With the conclusion of military operations in Iraq officially declared and executed in 2011, a lessening concern for Afghanistan has also increased among public policy and public opinion in America. Additionally, the multinational forces have grown battle-weary and the exhaustive, perpetual struggles with the…

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Anger Across the Water: Parallel Trading in Hong Kong

The conflict between Mainland Chinese and Hong Kong people doesn’t seem to have an end in any sense. After the influential pro-democracy demonstration in Hong Kong, another protest against Mainland Chinese traders buying up goods to make a profit back home took place recently, and is still going on at the time of writing. Hundreds of Hong Kong residents have gathered to demonstrate against visitors from Mainland China. Hong Kong people are angry with these so-called “parallel traders,” who come to Hong Kong to stock up on lower-priced goods, including food items, luxury goods and electronics only to sell the goods for a profit across the border while dodging tariffs. The outrage has also spread to normal tourists, shoppers, cross-border buses and passersby with suitcases and trolleys from Mainland China. Social media has been awash with videos showing the activists attacking normal visitors from Mainland China, including old people and children, causing great rage and inciting another round of war online between Hong Kong people and Mainlanders. Parallel trading in Hong Kong has a long history. The number of parallel traders from Mainland China grows each year and the problem has become even more serious since 2008, when tainted supplies…

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