Tag Archives: United States

Can a Policeman Really Be a Diplomat?

A. Cannarella

Alexandra Cannarella is a junior international studies major.

I have always thought that the rest of the world does not owe the United States favors. Rather, the U.S. owes the rest of the world. Wealthier countries have a privilege and responsibility to look after those countries with less. Less what? Gross domestic product? Democracy? Obviously, the United States does not have a stellar record as an outstanding Samaritan, or really any record of comradeship in anything less than a mutually beneficial situation. Yet, it should be noted that there is a fine line between responsibility for others and the concept of the United States as a global “policeman.”

The self-proclaimed title of “world police” engenders resentment from other countries  because many question the authority of a developed country that cannot even educate, heal, and prevent bankrupting the masses. There is also the issue that intervening in a global problem comes with the risk of backlash, whether we take military action or not. For me, the word ‘intervene’ invokes the picture of a parent breaking up a petty squabble between two children over the TV remote. Why the United States has fallen into the self-appointed role of parent seems to be a question of self-righteousness.

The role of policeman is not something the U.S. has stumbled upon. It was a deliberate decision that has shaped our domestic view as well as the attitudes of the international community. The parent cannot also be a cohort; the kids do not make the rules, and there are clearly set lines between the duties of the children and the parents. Acting as both world police and diplomat will not get the U.S., or anyone else who tries, very far. Deliberate though our choice was to take on the role of world policeman, making an equally deliberate choice to let our kids grow up to view the world as a collective group of equally important nations that are dependant on each other is a crucial step towards diplomacy for all nations. The cooperation demanded of a diplomat means equality between nations. If the U.S. wants to have a hand in making the rules, we must accept a certain level of responsibility that means letting go the self-appointed roles we have assigned ourselves and accepting a higher level of responsibility; that which is cooperation.

Diplomacy is a word that is thrown around a lot, and the “diplomatic route” seems to be synonymous with “weak.” Discussion is overrated, and why try talking it out now when we have drones the size of mosquitoes? Diplomacy is not easy for some when so many countries have differing ideologies, values and issues.

I would like to say that we live in a civilized world where people could rationally hear what others have to say, but for many societies, including the United States, that is a long time coming. Writing off diplomacy for these reasons is not a viable excuse, and communication (or lack thereof) can either be the source of good relationships or the beginning of a war. The responsibility the United States owes to the world is not intervention, but cooperation and a more holistic worldview. The policeman must be replaced by the mediator, diplomat, and collectivist.

In 2012, Will Feinstein Answer for Iraq?

It appears U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein is on her way to re-election, despite unanswered questions regarding her judgment and credibility as a result of her role ten years ago in pushing through the resolution that made possible the disastrous U.S. invasion, and subsequent war, in Iraq. The consequences of that illegal, unnecessary war remain with us to this day.

Prior to the vote, I had contacted the senator and explained how it was virtually impossible for Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to have reconstituted his biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs. Citing reports from the United Nations, reputable think tanks, recognized arms control experts, and respected peer-reviewed academic journals, I thought I had made a convincing case that Iraq was no longer a threat to the United States or its neighbors.

Other scholars and arms control specialists made similar arguments. Indeed, Scott Ritter, the former chief weapons inspector in Iraq, personally briefed the senator as to how Iraq had achieved qualitative disarmament and was no longer a threat.

However, Senator Feinstein still insisted that Iraq somehow remained a “consequential threat” to the national security of the United States, and insisted Iraq still possessed biological and chemical weapons. None were found.

Similarly, even though the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency had correctly noted in 1998 that Iraq’s nuclear program had been completely eliminated, Feinstein also falsely claimed that Saddam Hussein was still “engaged in developing nuclear weapons.” No nuclear program was found.

When asked at the time how she could make such claims despite any credible evidence, she insisted that she was somehow “privy to information that those in California are not.” However, despite repeated requests to make public what she was supposedly privy to, she has to this day refused to allow me or any other independent strategic analyst access to this supposed information.
To this day, Feinstein’s supporters insist that she didn’t lie.

They insist that her false claims about Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” were just an honest mistake and the fact that Iraq happens to sit on one of the world’s largest supplies of oil is just a coincidence.

I was also among a number of scholars specializing in the Middle East who warned Senator Feinstein—correctly, as it turned out—that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would likely spark a disastrous armed insurgency, ethnic and religious tensions, and dramatically increased terrorism and anti-American extremism. Despite being made aware of the likely consequences, however, she insisted that the United States should invade Iraq anyway.

Feinstein acknowledged at the time of the resolution authorizing the invasion that calls and emails to her office were overwhelmingly opposed to her supporting President Bush’s war plans. Unfortunately, she decided to ignore her constituents and joined a right-wing minority of Democrats on Capitol Hill voting in favor of the resolution.

California voters must decide whether, under such circumstances, Senator Feinstein really deserves another six years in office.

Barbara Bush Talks Global Health

Former first daughter Barbara Bush promoted fellowships for her non-profit organization, Global Health Corps, to a crowded room of USF students and faculty, mainly associated with the USF Business School, on Monday, Oct. 4. Bush refrained from discussing details about her life during her father’s presidency although she did say, during an exclusive interview with the Foghorn, that she had “a very normal college experience.” She said it was more normal than people would expect, considering herself lucky to have had a supportive environment and “a very normal life.”

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Barabara Bush discusses Global Health Corps, a non-profit organization aimed at bringing health equity to countries like the United States and Africa. Bush co-founded the organization with Google geopolitic analyst Charlie Hale (above, right) and others. (Cass Krughoff/Foghorn)

Setting politics aside, Barbara Bush focused on discussing her passion for global health both abroad and in the United States. Bush said that her passion for global health developed while witnessing the contrast between the availability of health resources in developing and developed countries during a family trip to Africa in 2003. Accompanying her parents on an initiative of the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPAR), Bush, who had been 20 years old at the time, recounted a particular moment in her travel that influenced her current career path. She said, “I vividly remember sitting next to a tiny precious girl who was lying down dressed in her fanciest white and lavender dress. I didn’t know the details of her life at all. Her mother dressed her up and brought her to see the American president though she probably didn’t live much longer after then that.”

Upon returning to Yale University, the school which she attended, Bush decided to shift her focus from her previous studies in architecture to enroll in health classes that fueled her interest in global health. After graduating, Bush worked for the Red Cross’s Children’s Hospital in South Africa and interned for UNICEF in Botswana. In 2008, with funding from Google.org, Bush and several partners, some of whom were present at the USF event, created Global Health Corps (GHC).
Bush said the non-profit she founded developed to “harness all of the passion, energy, and skills of young people in our generation to confront these huge global health challenges facing our world today.” She said that one of the most common assumptions people make is that they cannot get involved in supporting medical work because they are not doctors or nurses.

However, Bush said that while asking international partner organizations about their needs, they rarely ask for medical staff. Instead Bush said, “Today’s challenges require people with diverse skills sets from a wide range of fields beyond medicine which is why I’m really happy to be talking to y’all because I know that a lot of you are from the business school.”

Barbara Bush said that GHC currently works with the Clinton Foundation and Partners in Health to identify areas of need and develop fellowships in Africa and parts of the East Coast in the United States. So far, GHC has sponsored 60 fellowships in Tanzania; Rwanda; Malawi; Burundi; Newark, New Jersey; and Boston, Massachusetts. It was also said that fellowships in Latin America might be a part of GHC in the future.

Global Health Corps recruits recent college graduates and young professionals for yearlong fellowships. Bush warned that the application process is competitive as they received more than 1,000 applications to fill the first 22 fellowships their program offered.

Among the requirements for the available positions, Bush said that GHC targets people that show leadership, flexibility, humility and relevant skills apparent in the essays they submit and the references they provide. Requirements to qualify also include an undergraduate degree and being under 30 years old.
Applications for upcoming fellowship opportunities, according to Bush, should be available on the non-profit’s website by mid January. Bush also said that as the program expands, she and her team plan to have 500 fellowships available within the next five years.

While discussing the work students and young professionals participate in, Bush shared the stories of recent GHC fellows. One of the stories Bush mentioned was that of Jeffrey Misomali who watched his father pass away from HIV. After graduating from the University of Malawi and earning his degree in Environmental Science and Technology, Misomali completed his graduate studies in Water and Environmental Management. After being accepted to participate in a GHC fellowship, Misomali worked with a partner on developing a project to help HIV positive mothers counsel pregnant women and other mothers on the importance of HIV prevention, testing and treatment.

Bush said that the particular district Misomali worked in showed statistics of one in four people living with HIV. After twelve months of working for Global Health Corps, the number of children without HIV born to positive mothers went from seven to 100.

Bush said, “Jeffrey is clearly succeeding in his work in making sure that other families don’t have to suffer due to the loss of someone that they love.”
With respect to the work being done in the United States, Bush said, fellows working in Newark have helped train hundreds of nurses on how to improve communication with patients and counsel homeless youth and teenagers on access to health resources.

When asked why Newark was one of the two U.S. cities chosen for fellowships, Bush responded that during the launch of Global Health Corps in New York, where the organization is based, she and her partners kept finding the need to speak with people facing a lack of health assistance in Newark, therefore making it a valid candidate for their work in addressing health issues. Bush added that fellows provide reports on the work they do and that several alumni have been offered higher positions in the organizations they worked with after the completion of their fellowships.

The panel held at the end of her talk included advice from Barbara Bush as well as from the three GHC work partners that accompanied her that night.
Ajit Shah, strategic advisor to Global Health Corps and entrepreneur in Silicon Valley since 1982, said he has seen a new wave of individuals get involved with entrepreneurship in the non-profit sector and he advised that young people learn from those that have engaged in similar work to find mentors and build alliances.

Jennifer Miller, finance professor at USF and CFO of Global Health Corps, said that GHC has had its “daily hiccups” but that perseverance has been key in helping their project move along. Miller also said that flexibility in restructuring GHC’s mission has also been a part of the process to improve their line of work.

For example, Charlie Hale, geopolitic analyst for Google and Co-founder of GHC, said that the non-profit originally preferred to accept students that did not have previous medical training to add diversity to the academic background of GHC fellows but have since then reconsidered to include them in the list of qualified candidates.

With hopes that USF will take interest in this unique opportunity, Barbara Bush told students, “Next time you read or write about global health challenges, don’t allow the statistics to show you that nothing can be done. Instead think about your Jesuit education. Think about men and women for others. Think about the optimistic stories of real people making real change.”

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“You Say You Want a Revolution”

“Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot!” Nov. 5 marked the 404th anniversary of the attempt by a group of Catholic conspirators to blow up London’s Parliament and unseat Protestant officials (and the king) who, at the time, were suppressing Britain’s Catholic population. Government officials thwarted the plot in its final days of planning and one if it’s main conspirators, Guy Fawkes, was taken into custody. Consequently, the fifth of November is celebrated in Great Britain as “Guy Fawkes Day,” marking parliament’s circumvention of terrorism. In the following centuries, Fawkes has become something of a revolutionary ideal. Fawkes does represent the individual’s ability to combat corruption in governments.

In more recent history, this Monday Nov. 9 marked the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1989, the barrier separating democratic West Berlin and Soviet controlled East Berlin was demolished by a large, spontaneous rebellion of East Berlin citizens who refused to continue living with oppression and poverty. The failure of the Soviets to impede the East Berlin rebellion represented the turning point of Soviet control, leading to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union and establishment of democracy in much of Eastern Europe. Twenty years later, the blatant suppression of free speech, press, and travel is nearly unheard of in western countries and the establishment of the European Union seeks to eradicate corruption within European governments.

Both of these anniversaries represent milestones in history when individuals banded together in revolutionary pursuit. This begs the question: What will our generation’s revolution be? Or is it already happening? I believe revolutions, in many forms, are already under way. As we reflect on those of the past, it’s time we acknowledge the revolutions occurring today.

Tehran, Iran: The nation’s capital has spent the last five months in violent uproar as opposition forces protest electoral fraud and government corruption. International investigations into Iran’s presidential election in June shows conclusive evidence that president elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rigged the election. The opposition leaders, specifically western-supported Mir Hussein Moussavi immediately revolted after election results were announced. In the following five months, riots in Tehran have drawn record crowds. Government-sponsored police have resorted to violent suppression of all protests. Despite shootings and releasing of tear gas, Iranians have continued to rebel, demanding government reform.

Washington D.C., United States: Revolutionary action for social reform is taking place across the United States, specifically in the nation’s capital. Revolutionary healthcare reform was brought to the front of American politics after the election of President Barack Obama in 2008. For the first time since President Clinton’s call for reform in 1993, a serious campaign for universal healthcare is underway. The current healthcare bill seeks to grant affordable coverage to American citizens, especially those who have lost employment and/or insurance in the recession. This revolution has the potential to completely change the state of our country’s health. The reform could insure up to 36 million Americans who, at this point, do not have access to any form of healthcare, from chemotherapy to pediatric check-ups.

China: The revolution of totalitarian-capitalism is growing fast. China has the fastest growing economy in the world and is showing no signs of slowing down. In the worldwide recession, China’s economy barely took the hit, continuing nearly normal production rates.

The cultural climate of China remains rooted in communism, while free-market policies have taken hold of the country’s economy. The fiscal revolution defies the boundaries of both capitalism and communism, with the abundance of human capital and thrifty investment aiding China’s pursuit to dominate world markets. Economists are calling China the superpower of the future, and there is little reason to refute these claims.

Revolutions are abundant in today’s society. Guy Fawkes Day and the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall remind us to appreciate revolutions of both the past and present.

Our generation will alter this world drastically. Whether it is Iranian freedom, healthcare reform, major economic transformations, or something yet to occur, our effect on this planet will be undeniable.

U.S. is Overextended in Foreign Wars

October 7, 2009, marked the eighth anniversary of the United State’s occupation of Afghanistan.  Recently, commanders came out in support of more troops in Afghanistan, and President Obama seems to be following along with little hesitation.  I see no end in sight.  I have come to the conclusion that the United States of America is no longer a constitutional republic but a warmongering empire that places itself on a podium of exceptionalism.

Now, very few in the Congress are opposed to the occupation in Afghanistan as democrats stand behind President Obama, and neoconservative republicans continue to back the ever-increasing war activity in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  A war that has gone on twice as long as WWII, cost hundreds of billions of dollars, killed more than 850 Americans and tens of thousands of civilians must end immediately.

I ask one simple question to the military and political leaders that continue to back the occupation and ask for more troops: What are we doing?  Their rhetoric continues to encourage and endorse the need for more killing and bombing.

Our country must cease its role as a global police force because it draws away massive amounts of money that could ultimately be used to cure our domestic problems.  We must always remember the ethic of reciprocity: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

When the United States bombs a building and kills families, we create terrorists that now want revenge.  For this reason, the U.S. Military’s presence has become an endless money-sucking occupation.

Afghanistan is an important issue, however, we must look at the entire U.S. foreign policy.  In March 2009, the Department of Defense reported the United States military currently has personnel in 150 countries.  This number is extraordinary given the fact there are only 194 countries.  Right now, we have 380,011 troops stationed on 761 foreign bases with 54,043 troops in Germany and 34,544 in Japan.  Did World War II not end sixty-four years ago?  I would appreciate an explanation for this but of course the two major parties would never address this issue.

In 2000, George Bush campaigned with a humble foreign policy, yet he somehow brought us into two occupations.   Barack Obama, who ran as the peace president in 2008, is not only continuing the war in Afghanistan but has also become heavily involved in Pakistan.  On top of this, the possibility of war with Iran is becoming more realistic everyday.

It will be interesting to see what actually happens in regards to the United States and its foreign commitments.  As one who is personally angered over the two parties’ destruction of our country’s principles, I hope I am not alone.  Roughly eight years into the Vietnam War on April 21, 1971, 500,000 anti-war protesters marched in Washington D.C. and few months later, the Camden 28, including a Jesuit priest, broke into draft offices and burned thousands of documents.  Although the Vietnam War is different from our current engagements, thousands have died, thousands more will die, yet I see little protestation.

I know many are adamantly opposed to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, however, if nothing is done but a useless vote once every four years, I fear the United States will continue on its imperial rampage, ultimately leading to imminent failure.

USF Must Show More Troop Support

A new academic year has begun and blue skies have returned to San Francisco, inducing many to take to the park or beach, attend music festivals with friends or possibly look forward to a November homecoming with family.
It is likely that only few of us will be headed to Iraq, with the majority awaiting the start of an exciting internship or simply figuring out how to get through our first year of college.

Here, after more than five years of occupation, more than 4,000 servicemen and women killed, an estimated cost of $3 trillion dollars to our economy and millions of displaced Iraqi refugees, we, the college age population of the United States have not been required to give up anything.
Our taxes have not been raised, there has been no draft instated and we do not see the images of war every day.
Should a democracy work this way? Is it reasonable and fair that over 140,000 troops and their families have to endure physical and emotional stress so that we can sit out in the sun and revel in fall flowers? The current state of affairs is ridiculous and shameful.
I am not a proponent of war (especially when it is based upon false pretenses).

I respect and admire those who are presently serving or have served in the armed forces. The problem is that beyond the fact that our leaders of government are unwilling to challenge the American people, we as students and as a university in particular have not done enough to realize that America is at war.

Yes, I have seen posters to donate certain materials to our troops and of course this topic is routinely discussed in classes, which is great, but not enough.

For starters, I would love to see this school’s newspaper take a higher road than many local and national publications by at the very least publishing the names of those service people who were lost on the front page each week.

Again, USFtv has the opportunity to tell the story through interviews and pictures of specific soliders who have served or are training to leave.

The University itself could set a noble precedent by inviting current and former servicemen to present on any number of topics including ethics, theology and America’s place in an ever changing world.

I know many people will disagree with my approach. They will say that this is not the place nor is it our responsibility to engage our service people.

Some will argue that because this war is unjust, it is not reasonable to promote the armed forces on our campus or applaud the use of force in global affairs.

To the detractors of a more informed campus I ask, are the lives of those who have sacrificed in the name of your well being not worth a simple thank you?

As citizens of the United States, the least we can do is stop to acknowledge those who enable us to freely participate in fruitful discussions, on a beautiful campus, in a world renowned city.

Jon Coon is a junior finance major, economics and politics minor. He blogs at www.infoforlivin.blogspot.com