Work Samples

Writing/Work Samples

 


Academic Writing

Context

While engaged in a foreign policy course, I was tasked to analyze the US response to to a key foreign policy issue. Rather than choose a topic which I already had experience writing on, I chose to pursue “Space Diplomacy”- a topic which require significant research, but had an urgency and relevance which many other topics did not provide. During the course of this assignment I had to confront a dreaded, but common leadership roadblock: no one seemed to have an answer to the question at hand. Due to the novel nature of Space Policy, I found a variety of responses and approaches that had yet to be tested; thus, I had to evaluate and weigh many of the options myself. This assignment was a test of my analytical abilities as well as my writing skills and provided a launching point for a potential new passion: “Space Diplomacy”.

Excerpt

“Space Policy: The Next Frontier and The Great Divide”

“In recent years the emergence of new technology has opened a new frontier to foreign policy: outer space. Given its novelty, The United States is operating outside of international precedents and has the unique opportunity to sculpt this new domain to fit its own interests. Current US Space Policy centers around militarization, with a lesser focus on commercialization and exploration, and while the majority of stakeholders serve the President, a clear divide between building up military capabilities and focusing on diplomatic efforts has emerged between the Department of Defense and State Department. Despite this divide, US Space Policy is dominated by national, personal, and voter interests which has led to US policymakers taking a primarily realist approach of deterrence against great power conflict in the space domain.

Driving Factors

A predominant driving force behind the US’s Space Policy has been to uphold national interest through a realist interpretation of the world. Consequently, the militarization of space is necessary in order to maintain the US’s stance as a global superpower and to deter other states from escalation. This motivating factor is seen through President Trump’s assertion that the US must pursue “Peace through strength” which demonstrates a realist approach to deterrence and betrays that he views military build up as the only way to preserve national interests (“President Donald J. Trump” 2018). While the President’s stance shows ideological roots similar to that of pioneers and westward expansions, his actions are largely based in realist driven deterrence. The Space Development Agency echoes this sentiment, arguing that its role will be to deter violence and hostility in space through building up US capabilities (Space Development Agency, n.d.).

As early as 2001, a special commission chaired by Donald Rumsfeld concluded that the US had fallen behind in the modern space race and that its deficiencies in the space domain could allow China and Russia to take aggressive actions against infrastructure and civilians (Grisales 2019). Alongside Russia and China, North Korea’s continued aggression posed a substantial threat to US dominance (Liptak and Browne 2019). Their advancements have placed more pressure on policy makers and have incentivized bipartisanship in Congress and across federal agencies as policymakers fear that the US has already fallen permanently behind. Kenneth P. Rapuano, an official within DHS, told the Senate in 2019 that the US would take at least a decade to match the power of its adversaries, and that, by then, China, Russia, and others would have already crested the point necessary to pose serious threats to the US (Wilson 2019, 14). Given the lack of international norms against the militarization of space, there are boundless possibilities for how adversaries could pose threats; thus, complete dominance is needed inorder to maintain national security (Lambakis 2019, 504). The pressing concern over imminent threats posed by China, Russia, and North Korea have prompted bipartisanship and multilateral efforts across elected officials and the bureaucracy to militarize and establish dominance within space.

In contrast, some government agencies have taken the liberal stance that cooperation and international institutions will best protect national interests. For example, the State Department has coined the term “Space Diplomacy” and has taken up the mantle of leading through international institutions such as the National Space Council (Lebail 2020). Similarly, there is a historical precedent that international institutions have created a peaceful and open environment for commercial advancement and research (Cross 2019, 1408). Yet, while these sects of government have a more liberal perspective, it is ultimately national interests in security and economics which prompt their action.

Finally, personal interests and vote-chasing also contributed to bi-partisan efforts. Over 200,000 American jobs are directly tied to the opening market of space, and for some congress people, this represents members of their constituency (“Key Topics – Office of Space” 2019). Following the passage of the NDA of 2020, multiple representatives including members from California, Colorado, Alabama, Florida, and Alaska voiced their support in return for a bid to have new bases and military infrastructure within their states (Grisales 2019). This attempt at pork barrel legislation shows a clear economic incentive for militarization of the Space Force and, subsequently,  incentives representatives to vote in favor of such policies. Additionally, even representatives who have no constituent-based benefit to passing NDA 2020 found motives in tying an unrelated welfare policy- 12 weeks of paid parental leave- to the creation of the Space Force (Stein 2020). As such, elected policy makers were incentivized by personal interests and voting behavior to support the militarization of space.

Conclusion

Overall, US Space Policy has been convoluted by conflicting Executive Branch, State Department, and DOD policy agendas. The driving force behind these clashes is conflicting views on how to best secure National Interests- the State Department taking a more liberal approach and most other government entities pursuing a realist approach of deterrence. These factors have led to policy which, at best, creates an unclear and disjointed front and, at worst, directly contradicts each other. Most notably, the defense sector and President Trump’s efforts, to militarize space while the Department of State attempts “Space Diplomacy” to build an open and honest domain for commercialization and exploration poses a dilemma for the future of space policy. Ultimately, as technology advances and international actors like China continue to exert more pressure on US foreign policy makers, these conflicting stances will need to solidify in order to achieve holistic and long term readiness.” 

Reflection

This paper was challenging, but it was an enjoyable challenge. Walking away from this paper I found  a new passion for space policy and I hope to pursue this subject matter further in the future.  Further, the structure of this paper provided a new outline to analyze other policy issues with. Moving forward, I would like to practice taking these steps in a more succinct and persuasive manner as my future clients will not be as patient or as naturally attentive as my professors.

Creative Analysis Portfolio

Context

While engaged in a course titled “Weak and Fragile States” I was tasked to analyze key issues in foreign policy through a creative, but analytical lens. At times that required a more narrative tone, or even the use of personal anecdotes. This sample demonstrates my ability to convey information succinctly and persuasively. In the process of writing this example I learned how to expand my writing skills past term papers and to pursue information sharing with a more creative perspective. This specific excerpt was required to be addressed to the President advising him/her on responding to Weak and Fragile States.

Excerpt

A Letter To The President 

Mr. President, I am writing to recommend criteria for identifying and allocating aid to fragile states. 

I define a Fragile State as a state that lacks the necessary infrastructure to uphold its legitimate role to its people such as lacking territorial integrity, having persistent violence both domestically and internationally, or lacking the institutions necessary for individual growth. Due to the inherent subjectivity in measuring such factors, to identify such states, I defer to the Fragile States Index which offers data on twelve different indicators under the headings of Cohesion, Economic, Political, and Social and Cross Cutting Indicators. 

In considering where our aid should be directed it is necessary to think critically of which indicators can be most affected by financial contributions. Currently there are three categories of states.  

First are Fragile states with scores lower than 8 in Economic and Political Indicators such as Rwanda (“Fragility). These indicators suggest that despite state fragility, the framework for inclusive institutions exist; thus, our aid can be given directly to the government or national level officials to be distributed.  

Second are states in which Political indicators are higher than 8, but economic indicators are still lower such as in Uganda (“Fragility”). Here, our aid should be directed to local communities because we cannot trust political institutions to distribute the funds in an inclusive manner since, but the people will still be able to engage economically once given the means to.  

Third are states with high scores in both economic and political indicators. We should avoid giving financial aid to these states as exclusive institutions will render our efforts futile. 

Following these guidelines should ensure that our aid is effectively distributed. “

Reflection

While a tone respectful of the matter being written upon is necessary, these projects taught me to be more open to stylistic choices that may aid in my analysis or explanation of a given topic. Not only that, but building this portfolio forced me compete with my peers to create the most readable, insightful, and engaging texts possible within very strict word limits. As such, I learned that its not enough to go through the motions of writing; instead, I need to make every word and every argument as impact as possible.

Collaborative Work

Context

While a Co-Chair for AMERIMUNC’s United State’s Bureau on International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, I co-wrote a 10,000 word background guide on the South American Drug Trade. In preparing this background guide I learned how to engage in a collaborative and iterative project and gained valuable teamwork and delegation skills. The goal audience of this sample was High School students, so I had to adjust my tone and avoid the overly academic tone which is demanded in many of my courses. Additionally, this piece provided the opportunity to take  bolder risks with my writing as my audience would be more receptive to bolder and more descriptive language. The following is an excerpt from the background guide.

Excerpt

History
Chocolate and Cocaine- an unlikely combo, but one that is extremely relevant to understanding the development of the South American drug trade. Stemming from before colonization, the indigenous population of the Andes Mountain Range in Peru and Bolivia chewed the cocoa plants that are used to make modern day cocaine. In the 19th century, European travelers visiting these mountain ranges spread the tale of a magical plant which empowered these indigenous populations to be hyper-productive and resilient- sparking the interests of scientists and entrepreneurs alike. To understand the illegal distribution of drugs from South American countries, we must first understand its roots in a very legal historical roots.

Entrepreneurs created non-alcoholic tonics which wielded the stimulating properties of the cocoa plant and marketed their creation to demanding audiences across the globe. In 1860 a German university student derived the cocaine alkaloid from the Peruvian cocoa plant and its demand in the scientific and medical community boomed. It was deemed an anesthetic in dentistry, spine surgeries, and eye surgeries a like. The legal cocaine industry boomed in the 1880s and the USA became the largest consumer of its products. In 1886, in response to prohibition in Atlanta, John Pemberton created Coca-Cola as a non-alcoholic beverage which could be used to circumvent current recreational restrictions.

Peru, in response, boasted the new cocoa and cocaine industry as their prime export and erected dozens of factories along its countryside. However, this thriving, legal market came under fire in the early 20th century. The United States Government, once the largest receiver of Cocaine related products, began to wean itself off the highly addictive product as well as several other drugs such as marijuana and opium. This new sentiment was driven by a belief that drugs were ruining American society and Peru struggled with their identity as the world’s cocaine provider.

At the same time from 1900-1945 Mexico dominated its own sector of the drug trade: the illegal sale of opium and marajuana. Mexico had been growing poppies, the flower which is used to create opium, since before the 1900’s. When demands for the flower’s derivative began to increase in between 1920-1930, Mexico’s poppy farmers couldn’t keep up with the market and Indian opium was soon imported. The state’s other main drug export, marajuana, was also thriving in between 1900-1950. In Puebla, Guerrero, and Tlaxcala the plant was grown and its farmers shipped their products across the border to its largest consumer: the USA. Even after several attempted bans, the market was as flourishing as the buds spanning the Mexican countryside.

Even while illegal, the drug market in Mexico benefited from the support of the upper class and politicians who saw the drug trade as an opportunity to gain power and wealth. These local leaders facilitated the trade up to the United States and benefited greatly from the illicit market. At this point the trade was relatively non-violent, as the presence of such strong leaders quelled the possibility of clashes and the trade remained a largely public aspect of Mexican border cities. Other countries like Colombia, Panama, and Cuba, seeing the success of these other trades, were also heavily involved in the emerging South American trade.

In the second half of the 20th century, the drug trade shifted. It became more violent and localized within Latin America as several efforts to quell it failed. The cocaine industry found strong roots in Bolivia following their revolution. After the production of cocaine was made illegal in Peru, Peruvian influence dropped significantly. In 1985, 65% of the world’s supply of cocoa leaf was produced in Peru, but by 2000, Columbia accounted for nearly 90% of the market. Cuba re-characterized the drug as recreational and it soon became a crucial point in the path of cocaine from Bolivia and Chile to the United States. During this time, the drug market also saw an uptake in more organized networks. Gone were the days of sporadic shipments through border towns; concentrated networks could now reliably and systematically transport cocaine and other illegal products from Latin America to cities all across the United States.

Once again, in the late 1960s, the drug trade took another dramatic transformation. With ever growing US demand for cocaine and marijuana in the 1970s and 1980s coupled with wide sweeping legal reform, the market became more concentrated in Columbia and violence became synonymous with the trade. Given Mexico’s acquiescence with US efforts to stem the drug trade and Chilean instability, Columbia saw an opportunity to become the new head of drug trafficking. Approximately 50,000 local farmers and additional workers grew marijuana and the economy of Columbia soon became reliant on the drug. Local producers began to marry upper class elites in order to protect their businesses. Violence surged with as the government’s sources of legitimate power, the police, lost their hold on the country. The trade became even more organized as traders in Columbia began airlifting copious amounts of the illicit products.

In the 1980’s almost 70% of the two drugs passed through Florida and Miami’s streets became battle grounds for conflicting gangs. In an unusual twist of fate, the kidnapping of one prominent leader’s sister lead to an alliance forming between the once localized gangs and violence decreased. Back in Columbia, the gangs, in an attempt to gain public support, started welfare programs and bought radio stations. Yet, the prominent gang at the time, Medellín, began to fall from power and new gangs arose to fill the power vacuum. The drug trade was not over, but it once again was forced to regroup with a new strategy.”

Reflection

Writing this piece required awareness of tone, style and intention. Not only did writing alongside another person pose challenges, but the audience of High School students also challenged my ability to explain complex topics in a clear, but engaging way. I’ve since learned to keep the intent of a project at the forefront of my mind so that creative differences can be overcome and audiences addressed.

Speech

Context

Using this speech, I competed in the American Legion Oratorical Contest during my Senior year of High School. During this competition, I was tasked with crafting a ten minute oration on the topic of our duties as an American citizen. After winning the Post, District, and County Competitions I moved on to compete at State’s where I placed third. This style of oration was formal and articulated, requiring dramatic peaks and troughs to keep the audience’s attention. In preparing for this competition I had to grow my writing instincts to allow for physical movement and vocal inflection. Through writing a speech for myself I also achieved a stronger grasp on my own presentation style.

 

Ambitions of The Preamble

“‘Need I infer, that it is the duty of every citizen to use his best and most unremitting endeavors for preserving it pure, healthful, and vigorous,’ James Wilson, a founding father and signer of The Constitution of The United States of America. In considering our duty to our government, we cannot simply read the words which our forefathers inked on parchment over two centuries ago. We must consider their perspective, a vision forged in the fire of oppression, in a time where men yearned to contribute, but were given no avenue to do so and crafted through the blood, wisdom, and service of two million Americans. Through such a lens, it becomes evident, that the men, women and children, who built our government, who wrote our Constitution, did not intend to create an entity that ruled its people, but rather a pathway for they themselves, and for us today, to govern. Thus, the principle of popular sovereignty is not only inked by pen onto parchment, but irrigated into our lands through the losses and strife of those that came before us. However, sovereignty demands action, it demands participation, it in itself is not just a right, but a duty as well. 

In seven articles and twenty-seven amendments, our forefathers and those that followed in their steps, enumerated not only our rights as citizens, but our responsibilities as well. Referenced in Article III section 2 and the sixth and seventh amendment, We not only have the right to a trial by an impartial Jury, but also the duty to serve as an impartial Juror. Referenced 40 times, through the seven articles and 27 amendments, we have the right to vote as well as a duty to do so. Enumerated in the First Amendment, we have the right to  assemble, petition the government, and express ourselves freely, but we also have a duty to do so when such outcry becomes necessary.

But to what ends? When on a brisk November morning, a young mother sets her alarm an hour early so she has time to commute to her polling station and vote, What is she voting for? When a steel worker in Pittsburgh misses a day of work, to fulfill his constitutional obligation to serve on a jury, what is his purpose? When thousands of activists gather across the country, posters and signs in hand, marching in the rolling waves of the masses, what are they moving towards? When young men and women, across our great nation, sit their parents down, to announce that they plan to dedicate their lives to their country, that they will enlist in the United States Military, to what ends are they pledging their lives… 

“We the People” is not simply a symbol of the American populace, but a signpost indicating that the following goals are directed specifically to them, to us.  It signifies, that while Article One is directed at the legislative branch and Article Two is directed to the executive branch, the sentiments expressed through the preamble are sentiments which the founders knew all Americans should embody.  Because “We the People” must pursue our forefathers dream in order to , quote, “form a more perfect union.” Thus, using our rights to realize the Preamble is our most pertinent duty as American citizens.”

Reflection

My oration demonstrates my ability to capture an audience and command a room using purposeful style and language. Essentially, I was able to use my analysis of who I thought would be present in the audience to create a piece that related to them both in content and in tone.

Even with this, there is always room to improve and while grandiose, this work lacked the personal flare that my audience demanded in my final round. Given another chance to compete, I would emphasize my duties and would bring out more of my voice on the matter. In many ways, my oration was too tailored for my audience, thus coming off as detached and preachy. Despite all of this, three out of four sets of judges felt it was strong and I came out as a better speech writer and speaker.