The World Mind Vol. I No. 1

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ERIN BOVEE Chinese and Vietnamese Strategies for the South China Sea Dispute
ANDREW FALLONE Impuissant Islands: Yakuza Influencing Japanese Sovereignty
ADAM GOLDSTEINTunisia: Secularism, Political-Islam, and Democracy Background
ERIK ST. PIERREFrance’s State of Emergency
CLAIRE WITHERINGTON-PERKINS | The Euro Mistake: The Good, The Bad, and Potential Solutions
DEBORAH CAREYClean Air: Privilege, Not a Right in Mufulira, Zambia
SAMUEL WOODS | Trophy Hunting as a Conservation Tool
AMANDA BRENNER Addressing Labor Concerns in Bangladeshi Export Processing Zones
22374893373_d611ea1256_mEMILY DALGO | Bush and Obama Pre- and Post-9/11: A Comparative Analysis
WILLIAM KAKENMASTER The Tragedy of NGOs: A Faustian Perspective on Human Rights Activism
PAUL JEFFRIESUkraine’s Debt to Russia: Efficient Breach Vindicated
JEREMY CLEMENTViolence in the Schoolhouse: The State of Corporal Punishment
LAURA THOMPSONThe Discourse Surrounding Internment of United States Citizens: Action Derived From Fear as a Departure from Liberal Democracy

The World Mind Vol. I No. 2

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ERIN BOVEE | Environment-Related Displacement: Climate Change and Environmental Manipulation
ANDREW FALLONE | Straight Outta Ulaanbaatar
WILLIAM KAKENMASTER Guatemala and the Limitations of the Democratic Peace Theory
GRETCHEN CLOUTIERReproductive Rights and Violence against Women in Latin America: Spotlight on Paraguay
CAROLINE ROSE | Saudi and Iranian Manipulation of Sectarian Violence as an Incubator for an Emerging Balance of Power
ERIK ST. PIERRERefugees Suffer and Europe Falters
DEBORAH CAREYMobile Money and Macroeconomic Development: Case Study on M-PESA
SOPHIA VOS | The Maldives and Climate Change: A New Type of Refugee
SAMUEL WOODS | The Refugee Camp Economy and the Economic Argument for Re-Conceptualizing Camps as Permanent Cities
 EMILY DALGO | The Legal and Human Rights Abuses of the Obama Administration’s Drones
KELLIANNE MCCLAIN | “Do As I Say, Not As I Do”: American Exceptionalism and Post-9/11 Use of Torture
ADAM GOLDSTEINSaddam Hussein: Was He the Totalitarian We Were Led to Believe?
JEREMY CLEMENT | The New Face of American Populism
LAURA THOMPSONThe U.S. and Legal Pluralism: Reckoning Private Rights with the Public

Environment-Related Displacement: Climate Change and Environmental Manipulation

Migration due to climate change and environmental manipulation is growing in places like Bangladesh, and the international community is not effectively responding.
By Erin Bovee
Climate change is a growing concern in the international community for good reason. Yet, while several individual states within the international community have made pro-environmental changes, there several serious issues related to climate change remain unaddressed. One such problem concerns international migration resulting directly or indirectly from climate change, which currently plagues certain Southeast Asian countries like Bangladesh. Due to war’s displacement of so many people, environmental migrants trying to escape unlivable conditions are not prioritized and often refused. Of course, climate change is not the only factor behind environment-related displacement; environmental degradation caused by some Asian development projects transcend international borders and force people out of their homes.
Situation in Bangladesh
The climate change situation in Bangladesh remains dire, even as the government’s corrective efforts have been noteworthy. In terms of renewable energy, Bangladesh is a leading world example of steady success, especially in sustainable solar energy development. An initiative to install solar home systems in rural Bangladesh, currently being carried out by the state-run International Development Company Limited (IDCOL) along with 47 partner organizations like the World Bank, has provided 9% of the population with solar-produced electricity, and there are plans to expand “mini solar grids” to provide for irrigation pumps. This clean-energy system is being implemented as the first source of reliable electricity for many in Bangladesh. Despite the prevalence of the clean-energy debate and the progress being made in the country, Bangladeshi citizens are increasingly being displaced due to water shortage issues. The main issue driving climate change migration in Bangladesh is the destruction of the delta region connected to the Bay of Bengal: massive amounts of flooding has led to the salinization and degradation of fertile land from brackish or salty river water, and the massive storms that occur periodically threaten the habitability of the area. Drought, especially in the northwest region of Bangladesh, largely contributes to the displacement of people and often leads to permanent internal or international migration.
Intersections between climate change and environmental manipulation
In Bangladesh alone, there have been serious challenges to the population’s ability to survive and work, especially in agricultural fields. Regions in the center and south are consistently flooded while regions in the northwest may endure months of drought at a time. This has serious implications for Bangladeshi food production capabilities, aside from the documented internal displacement. Urbanization can only account for some of the massive population increases around cities, and in the capital of Dhaka researchers estimate that over 1/5th of the slum population is made up of migrants from the Bengal Bay area in response to flooding.
Broader implications for Bangladesh and its neighbors concern the massive and unavoidable migration that will continue to increase due to environmental conditions. Already, many Bangladeshi have fled to the Assam region of India, putting a strain on both Indian-Bangladeshi relations and the land in the region. Pakistan deals with serious issues concerning migration as a result of climate change, and the extremist influence in the region is worrying many that the destabilizing effect of climate change could not only displace more people, but also cause them to turn to extremist groups promising better living standards. In terms of diplomatic relations, environmental manipulation (such as the damming and political control of rivers by both China and India) causes a great deal of diplomatic tension. The ability to manipulate water flows upstream of India is, some suggest, a legitimate security threat to India; others are, alternatively, unconvinced of the threat to India’s security and insist the two Asian powers would never escalate the situation to actual conflict. Bangladesh has a long history of water-related bilateral negotiations with India, but has little bargaining power when faced with the long-term effects of infrastructure inside their neighbor’s borders. Meanwhile the water crisis in Bangladesh’s northwest regions pushes more agricultural workers to the city or out of the country entirely.
Response of the international community
What, then, could the international community do to counter the negative effects of both climate change and environmental manipulation on vulnerable populations in Bangladesh and other areas? Large-scale environmental change was, of course, discussed on the international level in Paris last year, but while countries made an agreement to combat environmental change, no binding treaties were proposed or signed. Instead, the environment remains a domestic policy issue that can only be affected on a broad scale by pressure from one state or another. Unfortunately, little has been discussed with regard to the implications of migration as a result of worsening environmental conditions. UN Special Envoy for Climate Change Mary Robinson believes there should be more policies and programs designed to support those specifically migrating due to environmental degradation. She also believes, crucially, that these individuals should be treated as refugees, and that the international community is currently not honoring the UN Convention and Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees. Essentially, the international community should eliminate the “line drawn between refugees fleeing political oppression and migrants seeking better opportunities” due to environmental factors.
The implications of amending the UN Convention on Refugees to include those displaced due to environmental factors are serious. Under the Convention, states are held responsible for both the acceptance and the well-being of individuals; and yet, few states readily or easily accept the economic and security risks of doing so, or severely limit the number of accepted refugees. Additionally, accepting a broader definition for refugee status would greatly increase the already sizeable refugee population, and the current pressure on states especially in the European Union and the US make the topic highly politically controversial. Would this broadening of status affect all those impacted by environmental stress, or just climate change-related environmental conditions? Do we exclude consideration for people living in regions like southern Bangladesh, which naturally experiences cyclone and flood damage, even when global warming has increased the severity of these cycles? It is relatively unlikely that the broadening of the term refugee under UN standards would ever occur, and the failure of the current UN Convention to cover these individuals perhaps indicates the need for a new way to categorize and deal with this kind of necessary migration.
The response of issues like upriver damming and other environmental changes that affect more than one state are delicate issues the international community is not yet effective at dealing with. For starters, the means to resolve disputes that arise from building dams that affect countries downriver have not been effectively institutionalized in Bangladesh’s case, though the government has tried to address the issue in the past. In an international community that is unable to come to a binding agreement on climate change even in high-profile situations, it is extremely unlikely that a greater focus will fall on environmental manipulation which can be labeled as isolated, regional, or simply bilateral in nature. It is more likely that until the ramifications of the population displaced by environmental concerns gains more attention than conflict refugees, the international community will focus on positive, state-based environmental policy, rather than negotiating or considering transnational environmental concerns.
Erin Bovee is a student in SIS class of 2017. She can be contacted at
All views expressed are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Mind or of Clocks and Clouds.

Straight Outta Ulaanbaatar

Class consciousness and sinophobia in Mongolia’s economic periphery
By Andrew Fallone
Ulaanbaatar is a rapidly modernizing city, but some of its residents fear its new development may come at the price of its former uniquely Mongolian face. From the times of Chinggis Khaan, Mongolians have had their own united character as a people – despite all odds. After the collapse of the Mongol Empire, they were conquered and subjugated by the following Chinese dynasties. After being consumed into the Soviet bloc in the 20th century, the Mongolian people were subjected to further decades of anti-Chinese propaganda, when the USSR hoped to use Mongolia as a buffer to the possibility of a Chinese threat on its southern border. In recent years, as economic growth has boomed, new animosities have grown out of the influx of outside Chinese business investment which many Mongolians see as exploitative. Yet one new idea that globalization has brought to Mongolia has truly resonated with the population: hip hop. Mongolia’s crisis of identity, combined with a deep-seeded want to be separate from China, has spawned a new movement of nationalistic rap within the capital city—empowering the youth to feel a sense of pride, creating a commentary on modern Mongolian society, and exemplifying the underlying class tensions present, while also fanning the flames of anti-Chinese sentiments.
A New Nationalist Identity:
Emerging from Soviet colonialism, rappers within Mongolia are using the genre as a new platform to foster a nationalist sentiment within their youthful audience. Some older Mongolians had feared that the young generation would entirely discard their national identity for the glamorized Western way of life, yet Mongolian rappers are doing all they can to prevent such a loss of culture. One prominent rapper, Gee, inspires a powerful sentiment of unity within his audience. He grew up with a single mother in the Ger district of Ulaanbaatar – an extensive and destitute slum which houses nearly two-thirds of the nation’s largest city’s residents. Gee raps that “[i]n the ocean of globalization, Mongolia is like a boat without paddles. You better start to care before we […] drown.” He is imploring his audience not to lose their Mongolian identity in all of the foreign influences pouring into the growing capital city.
Many Mongolian men are also afraid of losing their national identity by not being able to marry another Mongolian woman. They see their city as becoming overrun with Chinese foreigners who are impure, compared to their Mongolian blood. Yet the problem for these Mongolian men arises when Mongolian sex workers and even local women mix with members of the Chinese expatriate community within Ulaanbaatar. These fearful Mongolian men find comfort in music which promotes and glorifies the culture they are afraid of losing.
Rappers also fight against cultural assimilation within Mongolia, working to keep their own identity separate from all of those which globalization has brought to Ulaanbaatar. A member of the rap group TST says that “[w]e rap in our mother tongue, and we identify and distinguish ourselves from other groups with our own language,” and even their name TST translates roughly to mean “mother tongue.” The group wants to “inspire ethnic pride among their fans,” says reporter Yuan Ye, for more and more young Mongolians are learning Mandarin Chinese in hopes of economic benefits. The early adopter of the rap genre in Mongolia Sukhbaatar Amarmandakh, or Amraa for short, says that “[h]e is an unashamed Mongolian nationalist, hoping to instill young Mongolians with feelings of pride.” The rap culture is helping to rekindle an ethnic identity within the newly globalized population of Ulaanbaatar, and giving them a new way to voice their pride and opinions.
Rapping with a Conscience:
The Mongolian rappers set themselves apart from the hip hop scenes in many other countries by focusing on social issues over pop culture. Rappers use the platform to critique their society in hopes of improving their nation, and by doing so fostering even more national pride among the Mongolian people. The aforementioned rapper Gee says that “[m]ongol hip-hop should be wise and should tell the people what is right to do.” Indeed, there are significant hardships that a modernizing and urbanizing city endures, yet through rap music, Mongolians can create a commentary on these issues in hopes of solving them. The rappers work to combat substance abuse and violence within their city. Mongolian rapper Quiza states that “[t]here are lots of under-age victims who are addicted to alcohol and tobacco. This is because tobacco and alcohol companies are very powerful.” To combat this, both Gee and Quiza reject sponsorships from beer and cigarette companies, because as Quiza puts it, “[w]e have a responsibility to think about how we affect the younger generation.” Al Jazeera was right when they tweeted out that “Mongolian rappers have less bling, more heart,” for the rappers in Ulaanbaatar are really working to make a difference in their city. They are fighting to combat corruption within the government alongside social issues, so that common people can have a larger say in their own lives. The rappers of Mongolia contribute positively to their society in hopes of helping to create a new positive postcolonial identity as the nation reinvents itself socially and economically. As theorist Stuart Hall puts it, “[t]he very notion of an autonomous, self-produced and self-identical cultural identity […’ had in fact to be discursively constructed in and through ‘the Other.’” Hall argues that new identities come from making existing influences their own, and through taking the increasing westernization spawning from the Chinese investment in their young capitalist economy and using the new western styles of music the modernization has brought to create positive change, Ulaanbaatar’s rappers are creating a modern Mongolian identity with their music.
Class Consciousness on the Steppes:
Mongolian rappers are well aware that a divide exists between the core and the periphery in Ulaanbaatar, and that much of the core is made up of rich foreigners. The massive mineral deposits beneath the nation’s grasslands draw in Chinese mining companies who invest billions of dollars, but thanks to corrupt officials within the core, 30 percent of the nation still lives below the poverty line. In a studio surrounded by newly-opened upscale western clothing stores one rap group sings that “[a]lthough we grew up in yurts, after years in the city we’re forgetting our culture.” Yet the rappers are speaking out against some of the more seditious aspects of capitalism. The Mongolian rapper MC Bondoo says that “[w]e don’t admire luxury culture. We hate materialism, and the worship of expensive things.” Despite the efforts of Mongolian rappers to empower the periphery of Ulaanbaatar, the divide becomes even more profound when you examine how the core makes their money.
Chinese mining magnates have relatively free reign from a corrupt and cooperative government to strip the nation of all the wealth they can. The government is relocating the nomadic farmers which symbolize the nation on the falsified grounds that they are depleting the grasslands in order to allow mining companies to move in and take the land, sparking further anti-Chinese sentiments and inciting one rapper to sing that “[o]vergrazing is a myth and a lie/ We have grazed animals here thousands of years/ Why has the desertification started since only a few decades ago?” Mongolians know that they are being exploited by the Chinese, sparking rapper Gee to become almost violently anti-Chinese, going as far as to say that the Chinese want to take everything from Mongolia. The animosity is exacerbated by the intense connection many Mongolians feel to their land, and the destruction that Chinese mines bring to it. Many Mongolian rappers have songs that revere the beautiful grasslands which are now being turned into a dessert by bulldozers and dump trucks. The rappers see the wealth that the Chinese are siphoning out of their nation’s well of resources juxtaposed against their own people starving for a drop to drink. Rapper Amraa calls for social reform and creates an economic commentary by posing that “[w]e have homeless children, we have poverty, but we also have a very grand history that was inherited from our ancestors. We sing about kids living in sewers, and we ask, ‘Where’s your kid living?’ We want to get a message to the corrupt upper class.” The economic disparities present within Mongolia give fuel for Mongolian rappers to fire up and unite their audiences by calling for greater change.
The Smoldering Embers of Sinophobia:
Lauren Knapp quotes rapper Gee to say that “I’m not racist toward anybody… except the Chinese. I hate the Chinese.” This sentiment is shared by most Mongolian rappers and much of the local population. Gee even released a new song whose title, “Hujaa,” is a racial slur against the Chinese, and rap group 4 Zug released a song of their own called “Don’t Overstep the Limits, You Chinks.” A history of conflict between the nations, alongside modern fears of Chinese economic imperialism, have heightened the racial tensions within Mongolia to a shocking level. It is possible that some of the sinophobia also stems from the sentiment in Mongolia that they are always a step or two behind China. Watching the Chinese mega-companies turn their national resources into huge profits, Mongolians might wish that they were able to do it themselves and see its benefits. On the world stage, China is seen as a key player, while Mongolia sitting immediately next to it has been relegated to backwater country. Thus, it is natural that anti-Chinese sentiments are a negative of the pan-Mongolian nationalism churned out by Mongolian rappers, for they can use universal hatred of the Chinese to further unite their people. A consequence of the postcolonial attempts to reclaim some lost Mongolian identity is a xenophobia. This fear and hatred stems from the pride and chauvinism endemic to any exclusive identity, and unfortunately by promoting the identity, Mongolian rappers are also promoting the animosity.
In Mongolia, rappers have helped to cultivate a new identity as the nation emerges from centuries of subjugation and adjusts to its new role as a part of the periphery within the capitalist global economy. They evoke pride and a new sense of ethnic identity within the youth of Ulaanbaatar, and fight against addiction and political corruption. Yet, they also incidentally feed into ultra-nationalist sentiments which can lead to hatred and racism against the economic core Chinese.
Andrew Fallone is a student in the School of International Service and College of Arts & Sciences class of 2019. He can be contacted at
All views expressed are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Mind or of Clocks and Clouds.

Refugees Suffer and Europe Falters

Europe condemns asylum seekers within Greece to a hellish limbo through the recent EU-Turkey refugee deal
By Erik St. Pierre
The sprawling makeshift Idomeni refugee camp now risks becoming a permanent shantytown after the recent closure of the Balkan migrant route through Europe. The Idomeni refugee camp, lying on the Macedonian-Greek border, is home to fourteen thousand refugees from war torn Syria and Libya who face squalor conditions, food shortages, disease, and little options of what to do next. Idomeni, a small town on the Macedonian-Greek border, contains roughly half of all migrants attempting to use Greece as a transition state to more affluent nations in the North of Europe. The 2,000 capacity limit refugee camp originally served as a waiting station for refugees with the hope of passing through the border into Macedonia. With the recent closure of the Balkan route, the Idomeni refugee camp is now becoming a bottleneck of refugees as it becomes severely overpopulated with little funding for proper shelter. However, rather than improving the conditions of refugees within Europe, the EU has opted to discourage those escaping war from fleeing to the West. The recent implementation of the EU-Turkey refugee deal attempts to do this by converting refugee camps, such as Idomeni, into bona fide detention facilities as newly arrived refugees face deportation back to Turkey. The EU-Turkey deal is has made it clear that Europe would rather send asylum seekers back into the fire rather than extend a helping hand. Idomeni is an unfortunate embodiment of the EU’s priorities.
The creation of Idomeni and closure of the Balkan route by Macedonia, Slovenia, Serbia, and croatia illustrates the divide within Europe over the solution to the refugee crisis. Chancellor Merkel of Germany slammed the recent closure stating “Sure, it brings us less refugees […] but it brings Greece more, and that’s not sustainable.” The chancellor then went to underscore the importance of finding a European solution. In other words, a solution in which all countries of the European Union participate, rather attempting to slow the flow of refugees through unilateral action. Balkan countries are still standing by their decision to close their borders. They claim that the closure have slowed the flow of refugees from Greece into the rest of Europe and that a consistent stop will discourage more refugees from entering Europe through Greece. Regardless of the truth to this Greece is still left with over 36,000 refugees hoping for asylum and little resources to properly care for and process them.
Despite this it appears that many asylum seekers will be taking up residence in Greece. Why is it that Greece has been so hard hit by the refugee crisis? The answer is a combination of Greece’s geographic location, the Schengen Agreement and the Dublin Regulation. First, Greece is located across the Aegean Sea from Turkey and is one of the first European Union countries in close proximity to Turkey that provides direct land access to other EU countries such as Germany. This makes Greece an ideal entry point into the EU for refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war through Turkey. Second, the Schengen Agreement abolished internal borders within the EU, allowing for ease of travel for all once granted entrance. The Schengen agreement then created an external border of countries that lie on the edge of the EU, such as Greece. As a country that lies along this external border, Greece faces greater strain than other members in processing refugees as they are checked in Greece before entering the EU. Third, the European Union’s common law concerning asylum seekers, the Dublin Regulation, devotes the duty of asylum application processing and relocation to the refugee’s country of entry. Under the Dublin Regulation if a refugee moved on to another EU country, the government of the country can file a transfer request to the country of entry. This places the majority burden on all EU border countries in regards to the refugee crisis, but Greece most of all.
The EU attempted a so called “European solution” for the refugee crisis as mentioned by Chancellor Merkel with a recent deal between the European Union and Turkey. This agreement attempts to ease the disproportionate strain on Greece. Largely endorsed by European leaders as well as the prime minister of Turkey, the deal attempts to “smash the business model of people-smugglers.” However, it has been condemned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)for arresting refugees and turning refugee processing “hotspots” into detention centers. In short, the proposed deal states that all future refugees entering Greece through the Aegean Sea after departing Turkey will be deported back to Turkey. For every refugee sent back to Turkey, another will be relocated in Europe from Turkey. Furthermore, the European Union will double the 3.3 million euros already pledged to increase the quality of Turkey’s refugee camps, renew talks concerning Turkey joining the EU, and release visa requirements of Turkish citizens. This deal has divided Europe with some hailing it as the solution to Europe’s refugee crisis and others slamming it for turning a blind eye from Turkey’s border closure to thousands of refugees escaping war torn Syria. On top of this the legality of this potential “solution” in Europe’s refugee crisis has been called into question. Critics who question the legality of the EU-Turkey refugee deal point out that Turkey not only has a large number of refugees without adequate facilities to house them, but also has not fully accepted the Geneva Convention. As such, this deal may break European and international law concerning that all asylum applications must be properly considered and cannot be sent back to any country without necessary protections for them. Due to the question of legality regarding the deal and the subsequent detention of refugees the office of the UNHCR has withdrawn much of its support for facilities in Greece that registered and assisted entering refugees, refusing to participate in the unlawful arrest of people escaping war. Despite all its flaws, this potential deal is seriously seen by the EU as a solution to the refugee problem in Greece and Europe as a whole. However, with the recent Balkan route closure and the stranded 36,000 refugees within Greece this couldn’t be farther from the truth. European leaders should be focused on improving the current humanitarian conditions of refugees within Greece, rather than condemning them to a figurative and literal limbo before deporting them back to where they risked so much to escape.
The Idomeni refugee camp is unfortunately an excellent example of the consequences of Europe placing a higher priority on denying safe haven to refugees rather than properly housing and protecting them. Jim Yardley of the New York Times visited Idomeni the day of the Macedonia border closure and describes an outrageous scene. Women and children sleep in mud, sewage flows from portable toilets, and illness spreads from person to person. Pictures from Quartz also depicts the Idomeni refugee camp as hopeless situation for an unfathomable number of men, women, and children. Seemingly endless rows of tents cover a ground littered with trash as people sit with hope that they will be allowed to move on from Idomeni into the rest of Europe. In an attempt to make Idomeni at all visible to Europe, two refugees lit themselves ablaze in a recent protest to illustrate their desperation. Europe cannot call the refugee crisis solved by the EU-Turkey deal with such cries for help emanating from Idomeni and other camps.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) recently concluded that refugees who were recently prevented from crossing into Macedonia from Northern Greece are at an increased risk of humanitarian problems. The IRC found that refugees at the Idomeni camp faces water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities pushed past their limits, a despairingly large amount of trash with no sanity location for it, a short supply of feminine and general hygiene products, as well as limited heating. Limited heating is of a particular concern as refugees resort to lighting their own fires, often in close proximity of tents which presents a very large fire hazard. The increasingly permanent refugee camp also lacks the proper number of actors to protect women, children and the elderly from those who seek to take advantage of the most vulnerable in humanitarian crises. Women lacks safe spaces to seek solace from abuse and the camp has limited sufficient lighting which makes it even more dangerous for the vulnerable. Idomeni is nothing less than a humanitarian crisis and becoming worse. Europe must act and provide funding to care for the refugees within Greece, rather than cutting them off and shouldering them onto another country that is equally ill prepared to house them.
The EU’s focus on preventing more refugees from entering Europe combined with the recent Balkan route closure has created a situation in which Greece is becoming a hellish nightmare for asylum seekers. The EU-Turkey refugee deal is an attempt at a “European solution,” to the refugee crisis, but it prioritizes ending the flow of refugees into Europe through inhumane and illegal methods, rather than improving the conditions of asylum seekers suffering in Greece. It’s clear the EU has the resources to properly care for refugees already within Europe, as evidenced by the money given to Turkey. However, the European Union lacks the will to extend a helping hand in the name of humanity, preferring instead to give that job to somebody else. Whether the recent refugee deal does end the flow of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East into Europe will remain to be seen. Regardless, it overlooks the thousands who already risked it all to escape war and violence present in Idomeni and other camps within Greece. If the refugee crisis is to be truly solved we cannot ignore those who have found themselves at the mercy of our care.
Erik St. Pierre is a student in the School of International Service class of 2017. He can be contacted at
All views expressed are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Mind or of Clocks and Clouds.

Mobile Money and Macroeconomic Development: Case Study on M-PESA

Offering financial inclusion while ensuring the accountability of private institutions
By Deborah Carey
One of the many effects of globalization on lesser-developed countries (LDCs) has been the rise of cash payments in traditionally barter economies. However, with 70% of the world’s poor living in rural areas, accessibility to cash and the financial institutions that manage currency can be challenging. New innovations have emerged in areas where the formal banking sector has failed to provide financial services to low-income and rural populations. One of these new technologies arose in the years following the boom in mobile phone infrastructure: mobile money transfers. Mobile money transfers yield positive results in macro economies since low-income people are able to participate in their local financial markets and avoid bank corruption. However the fee structure of these transfers, along with the potentially corrupt deals of private phone companies require us to remain vigilant in our analysis and critical approach to this innovation in development economics.
According to the World Bank, the mobile banking platform M-PESA represents a classic case for mobile money transfer in an LDC. M-PESA was developed by Vodafone and launched in 2007 by its Kenyan affiliate Safaricom. Safaricom is the largest mobile provider in Kenya, and its M-PESA pilot program proved successful in its ability to deliver accessible mobile money transfer to low-income Kenyans. M-PESA is now ubiquitous in Kenya, and has spread all over the Global South, most notably in Tanzania, Afghanistan, and India. A survey-based study by William Jack and Tavneet Suri of MIT states that users deem it be “faster, cheaper, more reliable, and safer” than other financial institutions. But how did M-PESA initially become widely used among poor populations?
An article in the Economist attributes M-PESA’s success to two major factors: the “send money home” campaign and the political atmosphere in Kenya after M-PESA’s introduction. With a large rural population, strong family ties, and the high cost of travel, remittances given between family members living away from home is an important part of the domestic economy. M-PESA’s marketing strategy, called the Send Money Home campaign, was widely effective.  It encouraged Kenyans to employ M-PESA to pay remittances. In 2014, remittances in Kenya totaled $1,440,846,022 dollars, which was a $506,696,865 dollar increase since just 2011 The year M-PESA launched coincided with the famous 2007 election that resulted in severe post-election violence and Kenya’s temporary coalition government. This intense violence lasted for a number of months, and much of the nation’s poor population (especially those located in Nairobi slums) were unable to work or travel due to the danger. Those affected used M-PESA as the safest way to send money to family and lessen the economic pressures of those in isolation. As a result, there was a network effect that introduced many new users to M-PESA’s services.
Numerous scholars have proclaimed mobile money such as M-PESA as an innovation that provides financial services to rural and low-income populations. But what are the development implications of more Kenyans using M-PESA accounts than debit cards? And what are the effects of M-PESA on Kenya’s macro economy?
Some economists fear that mobile money could reduce countries’ monetary policy autonomy since transactions can be made more readily than cash transfers. However a study by Isaac Mbiti and David Weil has found that, contrary to popular belief, the velocity of M-PESA transfers does not exceed the velocity of cash. They also found that previous estimates of M-PESA’s percentage control of GDP were inflated. Mobile money is still “small relative to other monetary aggregates,” and so yields minimal impact on monetary policy autonomy. This being said, a continued increase in users and rise in the maximum transfer cap could drastically challenge the study’s findings. It is also assumed that putting money into a company rather than a bank would result in a lower multiplier effect for the macro economy. However, Safaricom does not manage M-PESA funds. According to the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, the “funds are held by a trust which is owned by Vodafone, deposited in several commercial banks, and cannot be accessed by Safaricom.”  M-PESA money then has the same multiplier effect as other currency held by banks. The interest earned on these accounts is also put into the “M-PESA Foundation,” which works on development projects all over Kenya. In consideration of its development implications, M-PESA appears to have a positive impact on Kenya’s macro economy.
Another implication of M-PESA for Kenya’s macro economy has been increased public trust in financial institutions. During the 2007 election, corruption was rampant in Kenyan banks. The emergence of M-PESA allowed citizens to put their money in a safer environment, while giving banks competition that would force them to abide by established laws. At the same time, Safaricom itself has been involved in a number of corruption scandals. In 2013, Safaricom adopted a strategy to report employee fraud in yearly reports. Financial crimes have since gone down by two-thirds, but corrupt practices are still present. In late February of this year, a prominent Nairobi lawyer revealed a $30 billion scandal between the Kenyan government and Safaricom deemed “Safaricomgate.” While investigations are still underway, rumors of these corrupt practices cloud M-PESA’s transparent reputation. In 2014, Safaricom allowed its vendors  to simultaneously sell airtime for its rival, Airtel, before the Competition Authority of Kenya forced it to do so. The increase in competition of the mobile money market has helped to curb corruption, since customers can now switch companies if they are unsatisfied with Safaricom.
M-PESA has also contributed to structural changes in Kenya’s economic culture. For example, Hughes et al discuss Safaricom’s “Jipange KuSave” program, which allows low-income people to save money through their M-PESA accounts. Since lower-income people have less money to save, savings accounts are not feasible for them in formal banks, which have minimum deposit requirements. However, by putting aside small amounts through their M-PESA account, Jipange KuSave has the goal of “reinventing the microfinance market” by giving low-income users autonomy over their savings. Olga Morawczynski’s study also found that M-PESA has improved women’s rights since M-PESA “decreased the risk of the money being stolen by their husbands.” He also found that urban migrants have had more estranged relationships with their families, since M-PESA allows them to make fewer trips back to their villages. Menekse Gencer contends that mobile money has revolutionized food security, since lower-income families that use mobile money are less vulnerable to shocks that may prevent them from accessing food.
While M-PESA has not delegitimized formal banking structures, scholars do call for more action by governments and researchers. Isaac Mbiti and David Weil  call for a common regulation of all mobile money platforms at the East African Community (EAC) as the utilization of this financial tool continues to increase. Every company creates their own regulations, so having common laws to regulate the market would be beneficial. These laws would require all companies to play by the same rules while increasing governmental authority, since the state would regulate this market.  They also call for more research to be done on mobile money’s effect on money supply and inflation, especially as this method increases in popularity. The European Investment Bank also encourages banks to innovate and gain the capability to incorporate mobile money in with their formal banking operations.
A number of economic development challenges still exist in regard to mobile money transfer programs such as M-PESA. Kenya’s 40,000 M-PESA agents are always at risk of theft, and Safaricom has attempted to implement security measures for these workers, but to little avail. M-PESA carries transaction fees with every transfer and, while relatively affordable, these fees are still inefficient from a macroeconomic perspective. Rather than gaining revenue from advertisements or only charging for certain transactions (such as, for example, Venmo does with credit cards), M-PESA charges for every transaction, depending on the size of the transfer. However these charges are disproportionately more expensive for low-income people, who tend to transfer small amounts at a time. For example, sending the minimum of 10 shillings would result in a 30% transfer fee (3 shillings), while sending the maximum of 25,000 shillings would result in a fee of less than half of a percent (75 shillings). This fee structure creates incentives for higher volume transfers, which is positive for the macro economy, but not conducive to low-income families.  While M-PESA offers financial inclusion for low-income people, the ethics of charging these rates for lower quantity transactions should be critically considered, especially in regard to M-PESA’s target population.
Mobile money like Kenya’s M-PESA has undoubtedly increased low-income people’s accessibility to financial institutions and currency markets. Developmental economists have rightly praised M-PESA as a new tool that includes Kenya’s poorer population in the country’s rapidly growing macro economy. However, like any new innovation, the excitement of the opportunity mobile money provides should not mask the potential downfalls it may present in the future. It is imperative that we continue to analyze mobile money’s impact on the macro economy and its implications for development.
Deborah Carey is a student in the School of International Service class of 2017. She can be contacted at
All views expressed are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Mind or of Clocks and Clouds.

Saddam Hussein: Was He the Totalitarian We Were Led to Believe?

Assessing the accuracy of totalitarianism as a label for the Iraqi regime
By Adam Goldstein
Introduction and Operationalization
In 2002 State of the Union address, then-President George Bush accused three states of forming a new “axis of evil.” Saddam Hussein, then leader of Iraq and a member of the “axis of evil,” soon became one of the United States’ chief enemies. In order to juxtapose the United States with Iraq, much of the American political discourse framed Saddam Hussein as a totalitarian leader. Dr. Ahmed Chalabi, a member of the three-man council leading the Iraqi National Congress, an opposition group to Hussein’s Ba’ath Party, labeled Hussein a totalitarian. However, as Peter Grieder notes, one of the criticisms of totalitarianism as an effective model to understand government is that it is often used as a normative label. Much of the rhetoric surrounding the use of totalitarianism as a label is itself politically charged and used to generate a specific response, making it difficult to understand exactly how accurate of a label it is.
Before exploring the efficacy of totalitarianism as a model for understanding Hussein’s government, some explanation of the term must be given. Friedrich and Brzezinski’s definition of totalitarianism will be used for this paper. For Friedrich and Brzezinski, totalitarianism has six components: An official ideology geared toward a perfected state of mankind that demands complete adherence; a mass party led by one person; a system of terror, which could be physical, psychological, or both; a monopoly of control by the government of all means of mass communication; a similar monopoly of control by the government of the military and weapons; and finally, a centralized command economy. Their definition, Grieder notes, achieved consensus in scholarly circles. Friedrich and Brzezinski’s definition is used because it reaches an appropriate equilibrium between specificity and generalizability. Theories in political science are usually too specific or not specific enough, but Friedrich and Brzezinski’s theory is balanced since it allows for unique examples within the regime of study, but is also broad enough to allow comparative analysis. Thus, it presents the best model to assess the extent to which the Hussein regime could be considered totalitarian.
Totalitarianism is a very specific system of governance. Many states that are labeled as totalitarian are, in fact, authoritarian. Because totalitarianism is a political extreme—meaning that it is the zenith of authoritarianism—and thus requires total adherence to Friedrich and Brzezinski’s formula, it is imprecise to place that moniker on regimes that do not meet all its requirements. The two regimes that are most often correctly labeled totalitarian, Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, met all of these requirements. Hussein’s regime, however, did not. Although Hussein’s government comes quite close to totalitarianism, its allowance of private gun ownership precludes it from truly being totalitarian. Despite the fact that Hitler only removed the right to gun ownership from “undesirables” and Stalin also allowed private gun ownership for hunting and self-defense, the extent to which other totalitarian institutions were utilized more than made up for this. Hussein, on the other hand, never had a military as strong as Nazi Germany’s, and never had a security apparatus as robust as the Soviet Union’s. Therefore, Hussein’s regime can correctly be called near totalitarian, rather than truly totalitarian.
Regime Analysis
The first of the six points is that a totalitarian regime will establish an official ideology geared toward a perfect state of mankind that demands its subjects’ complete adherence. Hussein’s party subscribed to Neo-Ba’athism, which is a splinter faction of the socialist, secular, and pan-Arab Ba’ath party. After the original Ba’ath party split in 1966 due to factionalist infighting and ideological differences, it began to seize power in Iraq. Iraqi Neo-Ba’athism, which is also called Saddamism— the ideology followed by Hussein—stipulates that Arab states should look to Iraq as the leader of the Arab “nation;” and invokes militarist and nationalist rhetoric and policies. It diverges from traditional Ba’athism by placing a single state as the leader of the Arab “nation,” as well as rejecting notions of class conflict, arguing that Arab states do not have similar class structures to the West. Lastly, Saddamism maintains a strong link between ancient Mesopotamian civilizations and modern Arab nationalism. Political dissidence in Saddamist Iraq was crushed; Hussein frequently orchestrated brutal purges and jailed political dissidents on often-imagined charges. At one point, Hussein gassed the Kurdish village of Halabja in 1988, killing 5,000 and injuring 10,000, all on suspected beliefs of disloyalty. When considering Friedrich and Brzezinski’s first point of totalitarianism, Hussein forced adherence to a supremacist political ideology, which demands a perfected Arab world, so it applies.
The second point of totalitarianism, that there is a mass party led by one person, is also true of Hussein’s regime. Although the Iraqi Ba’athist party had leaders before Hussein, once he came to power, the party was completely controlled by the dictator. A coup orchestrated by Hussein in 1968 installed him as vice president, which he used to develop a robust national security apparatus. In 1979, Hussein won an internal power struggle over his brother, allowing him to come to the presidency, after which he instituted the first of his purges. From this point onwards, Hussein led the Iraqi Ba’athist party, frequently purging opponents within government as well as ethnic and cultural minorities in Iraq to further consolidate power. Two other states that can be considered totalitarian, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, instituted frequent purges of undesirables to allow further consolidation of power around a single leader, such as Hitler or Stalin. Purges as tools of political consolidation, are frequently used by totalitarian leaders, and allow for one person to lead the mass party. Friedrich and Brzezinski’s second point of totalitarianism applies to Hussein’s regime as well.
The third point, that a totalitarian state possesses a system of state led physical and/or psychological terror is true for Hussein’s regime. The common facilitator for state led terror is a secret police force. The Iraqi Intelligence Service, also called the Party Intelligence (which is important to know because it demonstrates the allegiances of the secret police), was Iraq’s version of the secret police. The Party Intelligence orchestrated the Dujail massacre, killing between 142 and 148 Shiites in a reprisal attack for an assassination attempt against Hussein by Iranian backed militias. The massacre at Dujail was but one of many state sponsored attacks against civilian populations. Totalitarian leaders frequently play up biases among ethnic groups to help facilitate purges and state attacks. The Nazi party blamed Jews for Germany’s problems, and state intelligence services like the Gestapo would take them to concentration camps. Stalin would call his enemies capitalists or traitors to the communist cause, and would murder them. In Iraq, the major cleavages were along ethnic and religious lines, between Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis. Hussein would plan and would execute state attacks on Shiites and Kurds in order to sow fear into the minds of the population. The third point of totalitarianism, state sponsored terror, also applies.
The fourth point, a state monopoly on means of mass communication and media was present as well under Hussein’s regime as well. Article 36 of the 1990 Iraqi constitution stipulated that the national government, led by Hussein, had the right to prevent production or dissemination of anything harming “national unity” and the “objectives of the People.” Freedom of the press was nonexistent under Hussein, and the state possessed the right to both pre-hoc and post-hoc prevention and cancelation of materials they found disagreeable. This is a strategy used by totalitarian regimes to eradicate civil society. With weakened press, entertainment, and scholarly sectors, materials critical of Hussein’s regime would not be allowed to exist. By preventing alternative discourses on Iraqi politics, Hussein could spout his propaganda, indoctrinating the population. The sole news network under Hussein was the Iraqi News Agency, which functioned as a propaganda tool for the regime. According to a 2002 report by the United States’ Department of State, “The government restricts severely freedoms of speech, the press, assembly, association, religion, and movement.” By preventing people from freely expressing themselves, Hussein’s regime could spread their political ideology unimpeded, further allowing the regime to maintain total control. The fourth point of totalitarianism, government control of mass communication applies to Hussein’s Iraq.
The fifth point of totalitarianism, a state monopoly on weapons and soldiers, somewhat breaks with the trend in this analysis. While the military was controlled and used as a tool of state oppression, individuals were curiously allowed to possess firearms. According to a 2003 New York Times report, “Most Iraqi households own at least one gun.” Totalitarian leaders, by definition, possess monopolies on force; otherwise they could be contested violently. Hussein’s regime allowed households to own a firearm for self-defense, breaking lockstep with his other more totalitarian policies. Logically, a person attempting to establish a totalitarian regime would not want widespread individual gun ownership, but Hussein likely would have wanted individuals to own guns to deter invasion by his enemies, such as Iran or the United States. So, in one way, this could be seen as a nationalistic tool. On the other hand, however, Hussein is lucky an armed uprising did not occur to the extent that he could have been overthrown.
This paper takes the position that private gun ownership presents a flaw in connecting Hussein’s regime to totalitarianism, as it left political stability up to the ability of the regime to carefully maneuver itself politically. Additionally, Hussein’s totalitarian institutions were not nearly as robust as other totalitarian regimes. The Party Intelligence could hardly be compared to the Soviet Union’s secret police force, the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, and Hussein’s propaganda machine lacked its own Goebbels. While other totalitarian regimes allowed gun ownership, Hussein’s totalitarian institutions lacked the robustness to deter and prevent real armed opposition, and thus, gun ownership precludes true totalitarianism in this case.
The other aspect of the use of force in Hussein’s regime was the role of the military. The military under Hussein’s regime, expectedly, was under his direct control. The most important part of the military under Hussein was the Republican Guard, which constituted the elite paramilitary troops of the Iraqi Army. Formed in 1969 as the Presidential Guard, the role of this organization was to maintain state stability against perceived internal and external enemies, essentially, guaranteeing Hussein’s regime power.  A report from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy labeled the Republican Guard as an integral structure in Hussein’s regime.
Point five of totalitarianism only half applies. The military institutions necessary for a successful totalitarian regime were present, but Hussein’s allowance of private gun ownership prevents his regime from truly reflecting this aspect of totalitarianism.
Point six, the final point, stipulates that a totalitarian state runs a command economy; in other words, a highly centralized, state run economy. According to a 2003 report from ReliefWeb, a human rights organization, Hussein’s economy was a highly centralized command economy. Nationalization of oil, prohibitions against foreign ownership of businesses—leading to state owned enterprises as the primary form of big business in Iraq—and high tariffs on foreign goods were all policies implemented by Hussein’s regime. Because the state runs the economy, individuals are inherently linked to and dependent on the state, helping to strengthen and maintain the low levels of personal agency of the regime’s subjects. By weakening individual agency, political opposition is limited. Command economies allow the totalitarian leader to build high levels of capital for their endeavors, and prevent political opposition. Hussein used his command economy policies to reach these goals. Point six, that is a command economy, applies to Hussein’s government.
By using Friedrich and Brzezinski’s conceptual framework for a totalitarian government, we can say that Hussein’s regime is more “totalitarian lite,” rather than a completely totalitarian system. Iraq under Hussein met most of the requirements laid out by Friedrich and Brzezinski: The ideology advocated for an ideal state and opposition to said ideology was crushed; the Iraqi Ba’athist party was led by Hussein once he swiftly gained power and not relinquished until the United States invaded Iraq; a state led system of terror facilitated by state intelligence agencies was present; the state heavily censored forms of media and communication, and ran the only legitimate avenues for media and communication; while there was no monopoly on guns, the state did have its own paramilitary force and was in control of the rest of the army; and there was a command economy. If it were not for provisions allowing for private ownership of guns, Hussein could be considered a true totalitarian leader; instead, he should only be taken as a brutal dictator.
Adam Goldstein is a student in the School of Public Affairs class of 2017. He can be contacted at
All views expressed are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Mind or of Clocks and Clouds.

Saudi and Iranian Manipulation of Sectarian Violence as an Incubator for an Emerging Balance of Power

Balance of power theory, the geopolitical landscapes of sectarianism and conflict, and their incubation by Iran and Saudi Arabia
By Caroline Rose
The history of man is the history of crimes, and history can repeat. So information is a defense. Through this we can build, we must build, a defense against repetition.
—Simon Wiesenthal
The theory that history repeats itself has never been truer than in the Middle East. In a region that has always been what strategist George Friedman calls a “geopolitical flashpoint,” 2016 has started to become reminiscent of 1979. This past January, the House of Saud beheaded a Shi’a Sheikh, Nimr al Nimr, prompting Iranians to take to the streets and torch the Saudi Arabian embassy. Saudi Arabia, just like in 1988, has strangled relations with their Iranian neighbor; and both states have embarked on a power-grab. Iran has incited the Kingdom’s Gulf neighbors with Shi’a minorities—most notably, the Houthis in Yemen—to liberate themselves from their Sunni leaders. Across the Levant, North Africa, and the Gulf, the gloves have come off and the two powerhouses have conducted interventionist strategies, funded terrorist organizations, propped up dictatorships, and manipulated religious fervor—all to fuel a sectarian conflict in this winner-takes-all game.
Many scholars and critics have deemed the violence in Syria as a turbulent power vacuum. They are correct; a witch’s brew of dictatorial greed, decades of religious persecution, cultural and religious landscape at odds, and vulnerable economic conditions have produced one of the largest conflicts since the conclusion of the Second World War. We have come to know this conflict as an open invitation for foreign intervention. But many perceive Syria and Iraq as the second chapter of the Cold War, a stage for Russia and the United States to carry out countering strategic interests through proxy warfare. I will argue that this perception is clouded. The regional sectarian violence is really a theatrical showdown between two regional rising stars: Iran and Saudi Arabia, who puppeteer such violence to incubate a new balance of power in the Middle East, where Iran’s rising power unhinges Saudi hegemony.
Questioning a Balance
In international relations, balance of power theory endures, yet is seldom experimented upon. If Kenneth Waltz saw the Middle East today, he might consider it a picturesque representation of anarchy. The competitors view themselves as custodians of Islam, vying for control in a region that has lacked a consistent multipolar power dynamic. Hans Morgenthau deems that the balance of power is a “perennial element” in international relations, regardless of the “contemporary conditions” of the international system. Many scholars are looking to the Middle East as a hub that places traditional realpolitik back in business—and see that play out between the power plays between Tehran and Riyadh.
In the balance of power, states use various mechanisms to balance. There is equilibrium of power that mandates states adjust accordingly; when one makes gains, the other must outmaneuver to re-balance the scales. In the Middle East, however, the mechanisms of balance of power differ from those in the West. States do not necessarily focus on power plays amongst one another, but rather on what scholar Stacie Goddard calls the “dynamics of collective mobilization” and struggles for influence among political communities. To manipulate the balance of power in the Middle East, states must first establish one – something both Tehran and Riyadh have done through decades of military, economic, and religious expansion. States’ mechanisms to achieve regional power are not as simple as the West’s, and concentrate primarily on the nationalization and expansion of crude oil industries, leveraging their control of regional institutions (like the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the United Arab League) tapping into the anger of the Sunni-Shi’a divide, feeding nationalist fires, vying for huge arms deals with Western countries, and competing for great powers’ good graces. Saudi Arabia and Iran have been at odds over the region’s balance of power, moving levers to advance their position and hollow out a decaying power structure.
Exploring Historical Ramifications
Is some of this sectarian violence a motive that truly reflects the interests of both states, or a sway of rhetoric?  Before looking forward to understand these possibilities, we must reflect on the history between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Regional supremacy in the Arab World has been a strategic goal of Iran since the days of the Shah and since the al-Saud family’s rise to power. While these objectives are not new, the opportunities to achieve them are. The weakened governments in Iraq and Syria, the dormant Shi’a minority populations under Saudi-supporting leaders, and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action under the International Atomic Energy Agency all bolster Iran’s hopes to spread its influence in the Arab World, and incentivize Saudi Arabia to halt them in their steps.
Since the rule of the House of Saud, Sunni Wahhabism has thrived in Saudi society today and dictates the shape of its foreign policy. When the Crown Prince Saud came to power in 1953, he seized the opportunity to enhance the state’s presence in international trade. The years that followed introduced OPEC in 1960, the OIC in 1969, ownership of Aramco in 1980, and founded the GCC in 1981. Throughout this period, the Saudis learned the importance of dollar diplomacy and economic mastery. The 1990’s saw the al Sauds using the American relationship to advance their position and maintain stability in neighboring states by, for example, requesting American intervention in Kuwait in 1990. But it was in 2011 when the state of the union began to evolve for Saudi Arabia. The Arab Spring struck a chord with the al Sauds, prompting the government to ban public protests by Shi’a minorities in the East, to crack down in neighboring Bahrain, and to violate several international human rights obligations. Post Arab Spring, Saudi Arabia has sighed relief in maintaining regional control, yet looks upon their neighbors with caution.
Shi’a Islam has always been a key fixture in Persian society in Iran, and for centuries. But it was in 1979 when the Shah was exiled and the Islamic fundamentalist, Ayatollah Khomeini rose to power, spreading messages of anti-Americanism, call for the Shah’s extradition, the infamous Hostage Crisis at the United States Embassy in Tehran, and attempting to thread Shi’a Islam and nationalism together. It was during the 1980’s when Iran closely aligned itself with Russia, pushing the United States in the direction of the Saudis—establishing a dynamic that served as the “status quo” until the twenty-first century. The United States introduced the first round of sanctions against Iran in the 1990s, with oil and trade sanctions justified by an alleged support of terrorist organizations. The second wave began in the early 2000s, with the IAEA suspicious of uranium enrichment programs and a United Nations investigation, continued with the 2005 discovery of Iran’s violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Just in 2015, the international community has reached a long-awaited Joint-Comprehensive Plan of Action with the Iranian government on limiting the state’s nuclear production facilities through inspections.
The Middle East’s balance of power crucially shifted in 1979. The Iranian Revolution exacerbated Western-Iranian tensions and swung the United States to the side of the Saudis. The decades that followed saw the rivals compete for foreign alliances and play their animosity out through calculated measures, such as attacking embassies in 1988, cutting diplomatic relations in 1989, and carrying out small proxy wars in neighboring conflicts, such as Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq, and of course, Syria.
Sectarianism as a Political Sheath
Today we are witnessing the second phase of this tense relationship come to fruition. This has been accomplished through both states’ angering sectarian factions. Farea al Muslimi, an analyst, states, “All the sectarian rhetoric is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy for these regimes who love to play the sectarian card.” In 1991, Iran and Saudi Arabia resumed diplomatic relations, and both nations experienced a relatively friendly period until the American intervention in Iraq in 2003, where Saudi Arabia perceived Iran manipulating Shi’a militants with the defeat of the Ba’athist Regime. Scholar Brendan O’Neill claims that “much of the bloodshed in Syria is an expression of the Saudi-Iranian battle for the vacuum created by the post-Cold War,” and this rings true when applying balance of power theory.
When the Arab Spring was alive and well, Iran perceived these uprisings as precious opportunities to support Shi’a minorities in neighboring Gulf States, while Saudi Arabia saw it necessary to defend them. I say this because in 2011, Bahrain experienced attempted revolution with the return of Shi’a activist Hassan Mushaima—believed collaborate with Iran—and popular demand for a republic. Days later, Saudi Arabia and the GCC sent military-transport vehicles into Bahrain to stop the uprising in its path. But this is a two-way street. One can see Iranian attempts for influence across the region through the funding of terrorism and revolutionary missions. In Lebanon, Iran has funded the Shi’a terrorist organization, Hezbollah. In Palestine, Iran has been linked with Hamas. In Bahrain—a 61.3% majority Shi’a country under Sunni leadership—it has been hinted Iran encouraged Shi’a citizens to protest al Khalifa’s leadership. In Yemen, Iran funded the Zaidi Shi’a rebels, called Houthis, in a successful attack upon the Yemeni government and President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, forcing him to flee in February 2015. Saudi Arabia followed up with aggressive airstrikes to defend their custodianship of Sunni Islam and purview of their southern neighbors. In Syria, both powers vie for influence among the sectarian divide, with Iran deploying their elite Revolutionary Guards to defend the Alawite Assad Regime and allegedly pour $9 billion into the war effort. This cat and mouse game has molded Iran into of a regional risk-taker and Saudi Arabia into a vulnerable monarchy, cornered and cautious of its neighbors, yet ready to defend those loyal to Sunni religiosity.
Yet, if one singular event turned this cold war between Tehran and Riyadh hot, it has been the Iranian nuclear deal. The inclusion of Iran in the international community is a fundamental threat to Saudi Arabia’s status quo, a status quo backed by a series of American administrations and supplemented through an expensive oil trade that ensured Saudi Arabia a strategic advantage over Tehran. The relationship with the United States has been integral in striking a truly unipolar balance of power in the region, and both states understand that. Saudi Arabia, along with the rest of Gulf countries, knows too well the historical lesson that a weakened relationship with the United States leaves them at the doorstep of their foes. A long-standing ally of the United States, Saudi Arabia feels “betrayed, and now they feel like they must do something, even if it’s the wrong thing.” Riyadh sees the Iran nuclear deal in zero-sum terms and has calculated a more aggressive strategy against Iranian presence in the Gulf, further enhancing this rivalry. To mask this insecurity, Saudi Arabia has been buffering its defense systems. Riyadh has established a 34-member military campaign against terrorism, with states such as Qatar and Pakistan, an alliance that alienates Iran, Syria, and Iraq, despite sharing a common enemy: ISIS. Saudi Arabia’s aggressive foreign policy leaves it vulnerable in the region. Its friends in the Gulf have prompted questioning, its reliable allies in the Levant have frayed under the spark of revolution, and Iran has broken the status quo.
Manipulating the Threads of Sectarianism
For these two regional powers, the logic of driving such a hard-lined sectarian agenda lies in maintaining domestic stability. Escalating sectarian tensions does not only establish a state as a custodian of its religious sect, but also attempts to promote nationalism among citizens.  As has been the case of stirring nationalism at home, foreign threats have also assisted in this pursuit. ISIS—while a threat to national security—has furthered nationalism, especially within Iran. ISIS has deemed itself the true representation of Sunni Islam and has persecuted Shi’a militants, governments, and civilians as a result. While ISIS brands itself as Sunni, it has been a clear-cut national security threat in Saudi Arabia. Yet, Saudi Arabia has tried to catapult itself into the role of commander in an Arab operation against the Islamic State. While it has shared success in isolating Iran, it has garnered several problems in its organization. First of all, Saudi Arabia has named the mission, “The Islamic Coalition,” yet has isolated important Muslim-majority states in the region, such as Syria and Iraq.
When the Kingdom executed al Nimr and ceased diplomatic relations with Iran—a calculated public relations strategy—it expected GCC states to follow their lead. Thus far, only Bahrain and Sudan have cut relations with Tehran, and the United Arab Emirates has promised to “downgrade” their relations with the Persian state. Yet the remaining series of the Saud family’s allies have remained—an unflinching demonstration of shifting confidence between traditional alliances.
Theorizing for the Future
Saudi Arabia and Iran’s rivalry in the region will certainly not alter the global power balance, but it will establish a new dynamic in a region. Looking forward, there are many reasons for Saudi Arabia to be cautious, as there many opportunities and bellicose maneuvers for Iran to seize.
When applying balance of power theory to Middle Eastern sectarian violence, one will realize that two powerhouses are not only tapping into existing ancient Islamic lesions, but also adopting a religious persona that compromises any political exhaustion of the Arab Spring and a fraying political system of dictators. Moving forward, government officials and citizens should be concerned that a rivalry between the two giants will give the Islamic State more leeway to operate and execute their objectives. In addition, the deteriorating relations will deter the momentum of the Syrian Peace Process, and establish an undercurrent of tension that will undercut whatever diplomatic resolution comes to fruition.
Through this we can build, we must build, a defense against repetition.
Caroline Rose is a student in the School of International Service class of 2018. She can be contacted at
All views expressed are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Mind or of Clocks and Clouds.

The Maldives and Climate Change: A New Type of Refugee

How climate change and rising sea levels lead to environmental refugees and threaten a nation
By Sophia Vos
“If you allow for a two degree rise in temperature, you are actually agreeing to kill us,” argued Maldivian President Nasheed regarding the international community’s attempt to mitigate climate change at the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009. This country is comprised of 1,200 tiny islands, only 345,000 people, and a GDP per capita of only $14,000.  This might seem inconsequential, however Maldives is likely to be the first victim of climate change. In the next 100 years the Maldives may be completely uninhabitable by humans, which would make it the first nation to be eradicated by the effects of climate change. The emission of carbon dioxide around the world, but especially from the United States, China, and India cause warming and thus a melting of arctic ice.  The resulting sea level rise could engulf the Maldives, since it is one meter above sea level. The Maldives is a victim of climate change because its vulnerability and minimal contribution to the problem. Due to the continued rising of sea levels, migration will be the best possible option for the Maldivian people. As the Maldivian government has previously states, a new refugee status should be considered because they are being robbed of their national identity, property, and culture by the political decisions of nations that contribute most heavily to carbon emissions.
There are natural and geographical factors that put the Maldives in an extremely vulnerable position to the effects of climate change. As aforementioned, the Maldives is the lowest lying island in the world only a meter above sea level. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if the ocean rises only one meter, it would be enough to put the island entirely underwater. Even a small rise in sea level would be enough to make the island uninhabitable while other unaffected nations would be reluctant to change their lifestyles or policies. In addition to rising sea levels, the warming sea is bleaching the coral. The coral reefs are becoming “bleached” because they lose their color. 15% of the coral is now white and 50-70% has begun to pale.
Maldives’ perilous future is largely caused by human dilemmas that have had destructive effects on the island. Rising sea levels are a direct effect of the way top emitting nations release exorbitant amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. This carbon dioxide is then trapped, which causes the planet to warm and sea levels to rise. The top six emitters of carbon dioxide (China, the United States, the European Union, India, Russia, and Indonesia in that order) are responsible for over 60% of the Earth’s CO2 emissions. The emissions already released into the atmosphere affect the environment gradually. The current situation suggests that even if humans stopped emitting CO2 immediately, there would still be a built up effect of two degrees Celsius of warming.  This amount is enough to rise sea levels over one meter and thus enough to sink the Maldives.
The Maldives was colonized by the Dutch, the Portuguese, and the British consecutively. During this time, its resources were taken advantage of and the country is consequently underdeveloped. The Environmental Kuznets Curve demonstrates how the Maldives as a developing nation is not in an ideal position to fight climate change. The Kuznets Curve states that less developed nations emit more but have fewer resources to combat climate change while developed nations can afford to begin to preserve their environment. The nation primarily runs on diesel. Diesel is a carbon rich energy source which is particularly destructive for the environment, yet the country cannot afford to invest in sustainable energy such as solar energy. This abused island does not have the infrastructure to effectively combat its rising sea levels because of their low GDP, limited resources, and the overwhelming political and economic power that top emitters possess by comparison.
The current trends of climate change, sea levels rising, and the delayed effect of emissions on warming suggests that migration away from the Maldives is an inevitable reality for the Maldivian people. As I discussed previously, it will be difficult to prevent sea levels from rising less than one meter. There have been a lack of sufficient changes in emissions to save the Maldives from an imminent disappearance, paired with past emissions which will still contribute two extra degrees Celsius to the world’s temperature. This is enough to rise the sea about one meter and put the Maldives underwater. Research indicates that the Maldives has about 100 years to live and that it has already broken a threshold in allowing the Maldivian people to survive and live on their own island. It seems we may have already hit a tipping point with the Maldives, which would make it uninhabitable. If the Maldivian people cannot inhabit their homeland, they will have no choice but to travel away and find new homes and nations in order to survive.
While environmental science supports that sea levels are rising in the future, this tragedy isn’t the only reason to migrate away. Climate change has negative impact on the Maldives even today. As the atmosphere accumulates carbon, the ocean absorbs more of this carbon.  This process results in ocean acidification, which has a plethora of negative effects, such as decreased numbers of fish able to survive in this area. The Maldives depends heavily on fish as a main source of food and jobs. Those who depend on fishing to make a living or as a food source are going to face a lowered quality of life. Climate change also provokes a heightened degree of natural disasters, thus the area will become more physically dangerous to inhabit. Lastly, the people of the Maldives will have to face the extremely challenging psychological reality that they come from an island that their grandchildren will never be able to live on or fully understand their roots with, and the tombs stones of their grandparents will soon be lost at sea. These damages to the environment, economy, and psychology of the Maldives is enough to make the nation a very unsustainable and unfulfilling place to live.
Although the Maldives contributes minimally to climate change, the nation is investing billions of dollars into going carbon neutral by 2020.  Through this effort, the administration hopes to send a symbolically political message to top emitters who have more resources. The Maldives’ emissions are not enough to change whether or not they will go underwater but they are still investing their capital to reduce the few emissions they produce. The Maldives is an ideal place for solar panels, since it is sunny and flat. (Mulugetta “Deliberating on low carbon development.” 2010) The Maldives is also offering individual incentives to help citizens lower their carbon footprints. Other nations have much higher GDPs and thus a much greater access to resources to lower emissions. The Maldives is leading by example in order to make a political statement to other nations and portray that since they can limit emissions, others can as well.
As migration is increasingly necessary for survival, the Maldivian people will need a new type of refugee status that combines political and environmental aspects which respect the loss of the Maldivian people. The current status for political refugees is one that is temporary, individually granted, and catalyzed by the presence of a totalitarian authority. This definition does not apply to the Maldives as their migration from the island would be permanent, would apply to all people on the island, and is not the fault of a totalitarian dictatorship. Another possible status that does not fully encompass the Maldivian experience is that of displaced people because of natural disasters. While the natural world is causing the sea levels to rise, this is not a random arbitrary act of nature as a hurricane or a tsunami might be. The reason for displacement of the Maldivian people is because of the action (and inaction) of nations like the United States, China, and India. These nations emit large amounts of carbon, accounting for about 60% of the world’s emissions as a whole. The Maldives contributes only a tiny fraction to this number but is deeply affected by the carbon emissions of other nations. The Maldives is certainly a victim of climate change, and there are many perpetrators. Individual nations need to be held accountable for the effects of climate change, including the tragic destruction of the Maldivian national identity, culture, property, and sense of home. For this reason, Maldivians should be granted a refugee status that is somewhat political as a way to hold others accountable. This is an environmental disaster, but it is not without human apathy, destruction, and slander. In Geneva in 1951, the Maldives asked in a conference to be given a new definition for political refugee, as the description of the time period did not suit their needs or properly explain their circumstance. Over 70 years later, the international community has not pursued status, but Maldivian people have continued to suffer at the hands of greedy international emitters. These nations do not curb their emissions in time to save a nation they are destroying with their lack of concerned action.
The Maldives is arguably the first and most significant victim of climate change, yet they do not have any significant contribution to the problem. In less than 100 years, only a couple generations, they stand little chance of being above water. This “Small Island Developing State” could be the real-life version of the mythical City of Atlantis. Attempting to go carbon neutral by 2020 with a very small GDP and few resources, the Maldives asks the political question: “if we can change to make a sustainable future with so little, why can other nations who have so many more resources not do the same?” Without hope of ever regaining a homeland, the Maldives’ people will migrate as refugees whose status and future location have yet to be determined. This terrible injustice deserves to be met with respect and recompense or reparations. There are several possible solutions that would be respectful of the trauma involved in permanently losing one’s nation, and hold major emitters accountable for the damage they have directly caused. One option is requiring large emitter nations to pool money together and buy another island that is bigger and less low lying than the Maldives, allowing the Maldives to maintain their status as a sovereign state, but relocate as a nation. The second, more plausible option is for major emitters to accept refugees from the Maldives into their nations based on the amount they emit. The greater the emissions, the more refugees a nation could accommodate. This scenario would not allow for Maldivian people to continue in their native cultural tradition but it would not require the Maldives people to build a new nation on a recently acquired land as in my first scenario. Both of these options must be paired with a serious commitment to lower carbon emissions, otherwise they would be treating the symptoms of a larger problem. The Maldives is arguably the first nation to be this intensely victimized by climate change, but other nations will undoubtedly face similar dilemmas. The Maldives is a serious warning of the atrocities soon to affect all human life. If we do not change our apathetic ways, the Maldives will be the first in a series of human atrocities that touch the whole world.
Sophia Vos is a student in the School of International Service and the Kogod School of Business class of 2019. She can be contacted at
All views expressed are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Mind or of Clocks and Clouds.

The U.S. and Legal Pluralism: Reckoning Private Rights with the Public

The complex reconciling of private religious ideologies and secular public tradition in the United States
By Laura Thompson
The United States has found itself on a cultural breaking point. Currently, two major opinions are coexisting—and clashing heavily—in political society. The first is that the U.S. Constitution prohibits the establishment of an official religion, and in larger interpretation the establishment of the U.S. as a “Christian nation;” the second is the prospect of expanding normative and legal pluralism in the U.S. is possible, in favor of legislation determined by Christian values. The issue is more complex than it might initially seem: does the installation of Christian laws make a nation Christian, and did the Founding Fathers want such a thing at all? Although the Fathers forbade an established religion, some politicians argue that this does not negate the presence of Christianity in the government overall. This work argues that expansive legal pluralism in general family law has no place in the United States, not only because of the diverse and non-Christian population of the nation, but also because language in the Constitution and philosophical background of the Founders indicates it was not their intention or desire to found a Christian nation, either officially or informally.
It is important to first determine precisely what legal and normative pluralism mean. Norbert Rouland defines legal pluralism as “the multiplicity of forms of law present within any social field.” In extension, John Griffiths defines the term as
[O]ne in which law and legal institutions are not all subsumable within one “system” but have their sources in the self-regulatory activities which may support, complement, ignore or frustrate one another, so that the law’ which is actually effective on the “ground floor” of society is the result of enormously complex and usually in practice unpredictable patterns of competition, interaction, negotiation, isolationism and the like.
A functional example of a culture with recognizable legal pluralism is a country with active Sharia Law. An example discussed here will be Jordan. Now, in the most simplistic of terms, Jordan operates with both Sharia and civil courts. Sharia courts have jurisdiction over personal and familial matters such as Diya and matters concerning Islamic Waqfs. The Personal Status Law of 1976, covering issues of marriage, divorce, and other personal matters, is also based on Sharia law. However, the Sharia courts are meant for the Muslim population of Jordan; a non-Muslim party can only be taken to court in the Sharia system if he or she consents to submitting to the jurisdiction. Non-Muslim Jordanians subscribe strictly to the civil court, unless they choose otherwise.
Normative pluralism simply dictates “a plurality of bearers of value.” The idea is that there is ultimately one primary value; in the case of the U.S., the likely goal of normative pluralism for some lawmakers and citizens is that that value is Christian morality.  Although everyone can be Christian in different ways, and to varying degrees, ultimately that single religion or value prevails amongst a plurality. While normative plurality works clearly within demographics, it is not so easily applied to the entire United States.
In October of 2010, Delaware U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell questioned the presence of a separation of Church and State being mandatory in the U.S. Constitution. Of course, she was not entirely misled in her questioning: the specific language of “separation of Church and State” does not actually appear in the founding document. In fact, the concept wouldn’t be realized for several years later by Jefferson in a letter. What the First Amendment does say is that the government shall make no law “respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” So, if one only considers this particular line from the First Amendment as representative of the Founders’ full opinion, then it is reasonable to assume that while the United States cannot declare an official religion, the inclusion of religious principles, Christian in particular, are not by any means forbidden.
However, this singular reading would be a mistake. The First Amendment is essentially a written guarantee that the government may not compel nor prohibit the exercise of religion in its state. It is as important to note this distinction as it is to note that the Founders likely did not intend an atheistic nation. Rather, that men and women would practice their religion of choice in their private lives, without the interference, guidance, support, or opposition of the government. After all, the original Puritans of North America had fled religious persecution of a similar nature in England only a century or two prior.
If the value of private practice is maintained, then, normative and legal pluralism in family law cannot reasonably exist in the United States. For while individual households are free to worship at their leisure, protected by the United States, they cannot also be free to dictate the practices of others by legal declaration. The difficulty is two-fold, of course. First, that the U.S. has become vastly more diversified in culture and religion since the Founding Fathers first wrote down their ideas on the conceptualization of their new nation. The second, that it seems rather unlikely that the Founders, spurred on by hopes of religious and economic freedom, and inspired by the ideology of the Enlightenment, would have encouraged the enforcement of religious policy on others without their free consent, and beyond the purview of private practice.
Attempting to interpret the will of the Founding Fathers is a risky and elusive effort. To guess the wills and opinions of men who cannot be directly asked is a perilous endeavor, but perhaps it is a venture worth pursuing. After all, there is no doubt that the Enlightenment influenced the Fathers—Jefferson alone, in his devotion to the philosophies of John Locke, is evidence enough of it. In one correspondence, John Adams wrote,
Every Species of these Christians would persecute Deists, as soon as either Sect would persecute another, if it had unchecked and unbalanced power. Nay, the Deists would persecute Christians, and Atheists would persecute Deists, with as unrelenting Cruelty, as any Christians would persecute them or one another. Know thyself, Human Nature!
Adams’ letter, then, returns us to the religious and political speculations of Senator O’Donnell. In her turn with Democratic opponent Chris Coons, she likely thought she was being clever—for Coons could not reasonably argue that the Constitution claimed a separation of Church and State. But that was 2010. Today, although the sentiment of the Christian nation remains, the discourse surrounding that ideal has morphed. In Rafael Cruz’s A Time for Action: Empowering the Faithful to Reclaim America, Rafael’s son, Ted Cruz, wrote the following in his epilogue to the work: What we are really seeing is an increasing hostility to religious liberty, and to Christians in particular.” Given the lack of significant anti-Christian terror in the U.S., it can be largely assumed that this ‘hostility to religious liberty’ may well be the backlash to the assumption that U.S. law should be dictated by Christian religious platforms.
It is worth noting that many of the issues in the U.S. can be summarized by a lack of precision of language. If violation of religious liberty is defined by an inability to dominate U.S. law with that same religion, then the concept of liberty itself has been deeply misconstrued. Religious liberty in the U.S., after all, is the right of individual and private practice. There is, in fact, an argument to be made that the religious liberty of non-Christians is violated when Christianity dictates the decisions of lawmakers concerning the masses.
A separation of Church and State is not demanded by the Constitution, but it is an implied necessity. As evidenced by lawmakers concerning the legislation surrounding abortion, many find it difficult to disassociate their faith from their authoritative powers. In January of 2016, Ted Cruz attended a pro-life rally, accompanied by many other pro-life leaders, including Iowa conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats. At the event, Vander Plaats said, “I don’t know about you, but I know about me, and 2016, this country hungers and thirsts for a spiritual revival. To turn our hearts back to God, his principle and his precepts.” Cruz himself stated, “Every human life is a precious gift from God and should be protected from the moment of conception until the moment of nature death,” which wouldn’t be such a complicated thing—he is, of course, entitled to hold any given opinion—except that he is also running for one of the most authoritatively powerful positions in the entire world. Cruz and Vander Plaats hold similar opinions to many in the pro-life crowd; their collective voice seek to eliminate Planned Parenthood as an accessible health center for women, and more importantly, to eliminate abortion as a legal medical procedure for those in the U.S. seeking the service.
Politics aside, the issue here is not one of opinion, religion, or even autonomy. It is an issue of language. Private practice is no longer private when one seeks to eliminate the right to choice of other individuals because of their personal prerogatives. An argument exists that the very legality of abortion violates the religious liberty of some Christians—however, this position is not without its fallacies. The primary one of interest here is that this sentiment does not fundamentally align with the nation that the opinion exists in. If the possession of certain rights violates one’s sense of personal liberty, and only nationally enforced laws of religious foundation can right one’s sensibilities, then the United States cannot be a nation of contended residential choice.
Legal plurality in the U.S. simply does not align with the language of its foundations, whatever the current interests of contemporary Christians may be. Even if the Fathers did not declare a separation in those precise words, the first Amendment is not vague on its demands concerning a limitation of religious imposition on others. If legal decisions such as abortion and the institution of marriage are determined based predominately on the religious values of a demographic, then those legislators are in violation of the intentions of the Constitution. The religious prerogatives of politicians cannot determine the lives and decisions of the masses, particularly if there is not a normative pluralism amongst the entire population in favor of such a trend.
Laura Thompson is a student in the College of Arts & Sciences and School of International Service class of 2018. She can be contacted at
All views expressed are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Mind or of Clocks and Clouds.