Elections in Greece Bring Hope for Stability

By Alexandra Rockwood

Over the past several years, European countries have struggled with mounting economic disparity and political unrest due to the 2008 global financial crisis. Since the crisis, Greece has faced the brunt of these severe economic issues in particular. Greece’s unemployment rate reached 22% and 1/3 of the population was living below the poverty line. In 2009, Greece calculated its debts to be roughly 300 billion euros. In response to this surprisingly high debt, Greece proposed several austerity measures in 2010 to aid the country’s economy. These proposals caused riots and strikes throughout Greece, which alerted the world to the seriousness of this international economic situation. The Eurozone responded with two bailouts, consisting of $110 billion-euro in May 2010 and $109 billion-euro in July 2011. As conditions continued to deteriorate, the biggest concern of the international community was the fear that Greece would be the first country forced out of the eurozone. In February 2012, Greece finally passed the previously unpopular austerity measures that were recommended by the European Union (EU) and it appeared that Greece could finally get back on track. However, on May 6th, 2012, in the general election, the majority voted for political parties that favored the rejection of the vital austerity measures. Therefore, a second election was held on June 17th, 2012 in the hopes that a more stable outcome would be reached.

During the two weeks leading up to the second election in Greece, I was studying abroad there. As part of the program, we visited Crete, Santorini, Meteora, Delphi, Olympia, Monemvasia, Mystras, Mycenae, and Athens. From the media coverage of Greece prior to the elections, many would think that the country was in political turmoil and that visitors, especially Americans, were unsafe there. However, this was not the case at all. Outside of Athens, there was little, if any sign that an election was even happening in the near future. As we visited several historical sites, shopping centers, restaurants, and beaches, there was no sign of political upheaval. Instead, we encountered thousands of happy and friendly Greeks. When we flew into Athens, the upcoming election was slightly more apparent due to the presence of political posters advertising rallies for each of the competing parties, but we never felt endangered in any way. It was extremely interesting to witness the atmosphere of a country, days before immense political change would happen. The city’s police force took obvious precautions by setting up riot guards near crowded tourist attractions, such as the Acropolis, but these measures simply seemed cautionary. The unrest from the previous months of uncertainty appeared to have subsided and a historical election was about to take place.

The second set of elections took place on the day that my study abroad group left Greece, which was June 17th, 2012. The two leading parties were the New Democracy and the Radical Left (Syriza). The New Democracy Party, led by Antonis Samaras, ran in favor of the bailout measures, established by the Eurozone and International Monetary Fund (IMF), after Greece’s financial crisis. In contrast, the Radical Left (Syriza), led by Alexis Tsiparis, ran in stark opposition to the bailout accord and planned on leaving the eurozone and reinstating the drachma if elected. Furthermore, Greece’s creditors claimed that if Greece stopped implementing the proposed reforms, as stated in the bailout accords, the cash flow aiding the country’s debt would end. By stopping aid, Greece would be forced to default and leave the eurozone. Obviously, a clear choice existed for Greece’s citizens, one that would greatly impact the future of the nation.

Thankfully, the New Democracy Party won with 29.66% of the vote and instated Samaras as their leader. Just days after the election, Samaras set up coalition talks with the leaders of the Radical Left, which won 26.89% of the vote, and the Socialist Party, which came in third place. Together, these three parties would have 162 of the parliament’s 300 seats thus giving this coalition considerable power. As of November 4th, 2012, this coalition is still stable and working to pass vital legislation that will continue Greece’s path to recovery. According to the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, this legislation includes “new austerity measures, labor reforms, and the 2013 budget.” If these measures are successfully implemented, Greece will be able to provide necessary aid to its citizens and free them from the fear and uncertainty that has plagued their lives for the past five years.

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America and Israel: Where We Stand Today

Valerie Sanders

This past election season included mentions of domestic woes, poor economic performance, and a graze over of shallow foreign policy. Libya and Iran took most of the attention, but after that, the country that drew interest was the state of Israel. Regardless of which candidate would claim a victory, neither could afford to ignore this small yet prominent country. In an effort to sway Jewish voters, Romney picked up the Israel issue as an attempt to garner sympathy. This ultimately did not result in much change except for his obvious effort to poke at Obama’s shaky relationship with Israeli leader Netanyahu. When polled, only 4% of Jewish American voters viewed Israel as a top priority for their voting decision (Etzioni, 2012). Like most Americans, they were focused on domestic issues such as the economy or health care. If Israel is not a top voter priority, then why is it so crucial for American foreign policy?

For those who are geographically challenged, Israel is located in the Middle East. This region holds an unimaginable importance to the future of the global community and American interests. What separates Israel from the states that surround it is the established and stable democracy it boasts. All the main features that add up to a traditional democracy are present. These include legitimate elections, majority rule with individual rights, accountability within the system, and freedoms of speech and press. In a specific case, an Arab member of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, was even allowed to visit and sympathize with known terrorist organizations. He vocalized what he found wrong within the state and stated his support in some aspects of these groups (Levick, 2012). Of course, this was all accomplished within the democratic institutions established by the state. It is evident that freedom of expression is not an issue here. One of the major issues in other states in the region is the suppression of voices and opinions of citizens. Having an open flow of opinions and an outlet of expression to others makes this concept of democracy even more concrete. Being the lone liberal democracy in the region has created quite a tension to maintain that role and use it wisely.

The surrounding areas of the Middle East and North Africa are currently undergoing massive transitions into what the world can hope are stable democracies. The Arab uprisings each encountered unique situations but all shared the common goal: to rid themselves of a “sultanistic” leader. This term describes a regime that has similar features to neopatrimonial rule, namely an exertion of personal authority, a small corrupt personal support system, and keeping the masses deprived yet satisfied enough to comply with their rule (Goldstone, 2011, 9). While the United States might not necessarily be directly intervening in those cases, it is clear that as a country we wish for at least stability and ideally, democracy to spread.

The United States needs to work with Israel and lead by example. By smoothing out relations with each other and encouraging peace talks among the Israelis and Iranians, a sense of stability and perhaps equilibrium can at least be established, even if it is temporary. As long as the relationship is strengthened between the US and Israel, it will hopefully demonstrate that democracies are strong and fair systems, and hopefully the surrounding areas can strive to follow suit. Proving that this liberal form of government can endure disagreements in leadership and some policy-making decisions goes to show its overall effectiveness. Setting a strong precedent is the best way to get any point or idea across.

America and Israel share many fundamental features. Firstly, both are predominantly immigration countries. They grow because people want to move and live there. This also means they have faced similar hardships in the terms of what to do about granting citizenship and deciding who is worthy of representation and rights (Strenger, 2012). The United States has taken hundreds of years to overcome these obstacles, while Israel is in the process of doing so within a much shorter time span. Secondly, both are filled with business and technological innovations. Israel has the highest concentration of high-tech start-ups in the world (Geromel, 2012). Many large American companies such as Google and Microsoft have opened numerous offices and labs there in recent years to expand on their business and innovation. Israel is an invaluable resource to our government as well. Military training, intelligence, and technologies are often shared and work together. Counter-terrorism efforts are often partnered up and assist each other (Blackwill, 2011). With mutual ambitions and the acknowledgement of the importance of democracy, the Israeli-American relationship has no reason to falter.

Netanyahu is up for re-election in January, and will most likely keep his post (Heller, 2012). He and Obama have their work cut out for them. They both realize the extent of their cooperation. We must support them, as people and as a country and they will continue to support us. People who hold similar values are irreplaceable resources. Democracies need to stand together and work together to achieve a common goal of stability and reap benefits for both states. This is possible, and should be actively pursued. America’s relationship with Israel should not be taken for granted or thrown onto the back burner and be forgotten by the American government and people. There is room to grow and mend the relationship that has taken many blows in the past several years. The course of action is quite clear – we must stand with Israel.

Blackwill, R. D. & Slocombe W. B. (2011, October 31). Israel: a true ally in the middle east. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/2011/oct/31/opinion/la-oe-blackwill-israel-20111031

Etzioni, A. (2012, November 4). Israel doesn’t swing jewish voters. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/04/opinion/etzioni-jewish-voters/index.html?hpt=op_t1

Geromel, R. (2012, May 16). Proctor & gamble explains why israel is the start-up nation. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/ricardogeromel/2012/05/16/procter-and-gamble-israel-startup/

Goldstone, J. A. (2011, August) Understanding the revolutions of 2011. Foreign Affairs, 9(3), 8-16. Retrieved from http://heinonline.org

Heller, J. (2012, November 7). Obama reelection spells trouble for netanyahu. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/obama-re-election-netanyahu_n_2087591.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

Karon, T. (2012, November 5). Five countries where the u.s. election matters most. Time. Retrieved from http://world.time.com/2012/11/05/five-countries-where-americans-choice-matters-most/

Levick, A. (2012, November 6). Condemning israelis democracy, while serving in the knesset. The Jewish Press. Retrieved from http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/cifwatch/condemning-israelis-democracy-while-serving-in-knesset/2012/11/06/

Strenger, C. (2012, November 7). Obama’s victory and the american social contract: lessons for israel. Haaretz. Retrieved from http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/strenger-than-fiction/obama-s-victory-and-the-american-social-contract-lessons-for-israel.premium-1.475932

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Lenin’s Life After Death

By Marty Rogachefsky

Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov was born on April 22, 1870 into a well-educated family, which helped him to excel in school, where he eventually went on to study law. In 1891, he was expelled from his university for revolutionary thinking and later exiled to Siberia, where he adopted the pseudonym “Lenin.” During World War One, Lenin led a successful coup d’etat with the Bolshevik Party in 1917, which came to be known as the October Revolution. After the Revolution, he helped to form the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) under the banner of communism and worked to transform Russia into a socialist state. Lenin died on January 24, 1924, reportedly of complications from a stroke he suffered two years earlier.

His body now rests in a mausoleum made of black and red, high-polished stone in Moscow’s Red Square. The body is open for viewing by the public, but heavily guarded by Kremlin security. When tourists enter the dark and cold crypt, they risk being hushed when speaking too loudly or shoved on by the guards when walking too slowly. Lenin lies in a small room, under a glass case, lit only by a red light in the center. Thousands of tourists and Lenin enthusiasts visit the tomb each day to pay their respects to the founder of the Soviet Union.

On December 20, 1923, Lenin fell severely sick from complications with his stroke. Joseph Stalin unofficially met with three other Politburo members, Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Bukharin, to decide what should be done when the leader of the revolution passed away. Stalin suggested that Lenin’s body be embalmed under the banner of Russian tradition. The other three members objected to the idea; however, the only tradition they had heard of that slightly resembled this was worship of the skeletal remains of saints in the Russian Orthodox Church. Stalin was attempting to draw on the religious zeal still embedded within the Russian people in order to perpetuate Lenin’s cult of personality.

Even the competition to find the best design for the mausoleum was highly politicized. Stalin used the contest as a means of getting artists thinking about ideas for communist art and architecture that would serve the state in the future. All 117 entries for the mausoleum were rejected in the end and a government commission invited AV Shchusev to recast the wooden mausoleum in stone under his own blueprint in 1939.

Stalin also began the tradition of giving speeches, greeting military parades, and observing civilian demonstrations from on top of Lenin’s mausoleum. During World War II, Lenin’s body was moved due to German advancement on Moscow. His body was placed on a train to the Siberian city of Tyumen on July 3, 1941, where it was stored for four years until Moscow was secured in March 1945. Most notably, Stalin stood atop the mausoleum on May 9, 1945 to greet Russian soldiers and celebrate the Soviet victory in World War II, symbolically showing the defeat of Nazi ideology by Marxism-Leninism. This was a tactic picked up by Stalin’s successors to make a public display of their adherence to Leninist principles and show their progress in fulfilling the goals of the revolution.

With the increasing trend towards de-Stalinization came the desire to have Stalin’s body removed from the Lenin’s mausoleum. Khrushchev considered Stalin’s burial next to Lenin as a breach of Lenin’s sanctity, which he stated ina special decree to the Twenty-Second Party Congress in October of 1961. Shortly following the speech, Khrushchev had Stalin’s body quietly removed from the mausoleum and buried near the Kremlin wall on October 31st of that year. Khrushchev had effectively used the cult of Lenin to further his own agenda of the de-Stalinization campaign.

The mausoleum remained relatively uncontroversial until the beginning of perestroika. While general secretaries continued to stand atop the mausoleum during parades and public events, there was little left to politicize about an issue that had been so widely abused in the past for political gain. Stalin had soaked clean the idea of attaching himself to Lenin to ensure stability, while Khrushchev had wiped the surface clean by using Lenin to denounce Stalin. Leonid Brezhnev appeared atop the mausoleum to celebrate Soviet astronauts accomplishing the task of being the first to circle the earth in a multi-seat spacecraft; however, this was merely out of tradition than an attempt to manipulate Lenin’s legacy for his own gain.

The Gorbachev years gave rise to a greater period of politicizing Lenin and the mausoleum. Mikhail Gorbachev was attracted to the flexibility and progressiveness of Lenin’s policies, but also knew that associating himself with Lenin could mean that his liberalizing policies would be more likely to win support among party stalwarts and the Russian people as a whole. Gorbachev frequently cited Lenin in speeches and talks in order to give an ideological basis to his shift in governing. He effectively used Stalin’s strategy to dismantle his policies.Gorbachev used the contemporary political debates surrounding Lenin’s mausoleum to attach himself with Lenin and Leninist ideology as well. With the beginning of perestroika came a more open call to remove Lenin from the mausoleum and have him buried. Gorbachev spoke out publicly against burying Lenin when he was general secretary. A Baltimore Sun article described Gorbachev as viewing the mausoleum as a “sacred site” and seeing it as “blasphemous to close it.” 9 In addition, he recycled the tactics of Stalin and Brezhnev by hosting funerals for high-ranking communists atop Lenin’s tomb. From the mausoleum, Gorbachev watched the annual May Day celebration with the Soviet elite as he was booed for changing parade rules to allow political activists and non-governmental organizations to march. 10

The fall of the Soviet Union brought an increase in criticism of Lenin’s legacy as well as a greater demand to have Lenin buried to symbolize the end of the communist era. Boris Yeltsin, the first president of the Russian Federation, wanted the burial to occur, but could not find the political will to do so. Instead, he took marginal steps as part of a balanced approach to governing.

Despite the mounting support for the burial, Yeltsin ultimately failed to deliver, choosing instead to veer to the center as part of his campaign to win reelection. In April 1995, Yeltsin pandered to tradition and greeted the crowd who came to see the World War II Veterans parade from atop the mausoleum just like the Soviet leaders before him. Yeltsin faced several critics in the Kremlin, who said that he was standing on the symbol of tyranny of the old regime; however, the president wanted to win the votes of communist sympathizers in the upcoming presidential election a year later. 11

It was not until after the election and at the end of his second term that Yeltsin publicly declared that he wished for Lenin to be buried. While Yeltsin had always wanted to bury Lenin, his government did not yet have enough political will to convert thoughts into actions. A burial of Lenin would mean a symbolic end to the Soviet era, a truth that many Russians were not prepared to swallow. But with little time left in his presidency, Yeltsin finally told newspaper reporters in August of 1999 that he would bury Lenin at long last. 12 In an interview with Pravda, Yeltsin’s Chief of Staff mentioned that Lenin’s remains will be “definitely removed” and buried and reassured his interviewer that there would not be a public protest in response. 13

Until recently, Yeltin’s successor, Vladimir Putin, has dodged the issue of closing the Lenin mausoleum and burying the body. By choosing to stay away from the touchy subject, Putin elected to appeal to his base of moderate voters who were concerned more about political stability than ideological purity. For the first time in Russian history, Lenin’s mausoleum was seen as a source of instability rather than one of solidarity. Putin stayed away from the hot-button issue to win support rather than tamper with underlying animosities and nostalgia. His focus was on the economy and governing Russia instead of on petty topics that would court votes in the short-term, but divide the country in the long-run. He was following through on the prevailing issues of the time: economic growth and jobs. Lenin was not so much on the minds of voters as was financial insecurity.

Dmitry Medvedev took a similar stance to Putin, but public sentiment was mounting for burial. A public opinion poll conducted in February 2011 found that 60% were in favor of burial, while 30% were against it. At the same time, members of the United Russia Party began bringing up the topic again to give themselves greater public appeal during parliamentary elections. The Orthodox Church also began to back off of statements made in the 1990’s and began to advise refraining from hasty decision-making. A Kremlin rights council recommended to Medvedev that he bury Lenin’s body among a list of steps to distance Russia from its communist past. However, Medvedev stayed above the fray, choosing not to respond to the council’s recommendations. During the annual May 9th Victory Day parade, Medvedev and Putin elected to metaphorically separate themselves from the issue by standing on a podium in front of the mausoleum rather than on the mausoleum itself as in years past.

Putin’s appointment of Medinsky may be an underlying indication that he wishes for Lenin to be buried, but does not want to risk the political fallout from the still powerful communist bloc. Medinsky has co-founded and long belonged to an organization that tries to rename Soviet-era monuments. Putin almost certainly knew of this and wished for him to reignite public debate on the issue to get a sense of the public sentiment. An online poll hosted by United Russia found that 74% of voters wanted Lenin to be buried in January 2011. United Russia had long touted the results of this poll as reason to bury Lenin; however, it should be noted that the poll was offered on a website called “goodbyelenin.ru” and that the webpage reminds voters that Lenin and his family never wanted a mausoleum erected in his name. This has led to charges of “grave digging” by members of the Communist Party, who also criticized the poll for being skewed. Now that Medinsky has floated the test balloon, those against Lenin’s burial have weighed in on the website, bringing the total down to 60.5% for and 39.5% against burying the body. While this poll is unscientific and biased, it remains the most up-to-date way of gauging the sentiment of the people of Russia on what has now become a national debate.

Works Cited:

BBC History. (n.d.). Vladimir Lenin (1870 – 1924). Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/lenin_vladimir.shtml
Brackman, Roman. The Secret File of Joseph Stalin: A Hidden Life. Portland: Frank Cass Publishers , 2005. 157. eBook. .
Ibid, 204.
Ibid, 42.
Brackman, Roman. The Secret File of Joseph Stalin: A Hidden Life. Portland: Frank Cass Publishers , 2005. 161. eBook. .
Rosenburg, Jennifer. About.com, “Body of Stalin Removed from Lenin’s Tomb .” Accessed August 7, 2012. http://history1900s.about.com/od/worldleaders/a/stalinembalm.htm.
“Brezhnev Attempted to Advance Soviet Goals Through Detente; Soviet Leader Used Consensus in Politburo on Domestic Issues.” New York Times [New York] 11 Nov 1982, n. pag. Web. 8 Aug. 2012. .
Shane, Scott. “Ubiquitous Lenin statues stay, Gorbachev decrees.” Baltimore Sun [Baltimore] 14 Oct 1990, n. pag. Web. 8 Aug. 2012. .
Montaigne, Fen. ” Gorbachev, aides jeered on May Day/Soviet elite booed off Lenin’s tomb after rules changed for yearly event.” Houston Chronicle 2 May 1990, Star Edition Section A, Page 1, 2. Print. .
Erlanger, S. (1995, Apr 29). Yeltsin to stand atop lenin’s tomb for parade. New York Times, pp. A.5-A.5. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/430119727?accountid=11072
Harrigan, S. (1999, Jul 13). Yeltsin vows to bury lenin once and for all. Cable News Network. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/WORLD/europe/9907/13/lenin.burial/
Hearst, D. (1999, Aug 3). News world news lenin to be buried at last – official. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/1999/aug/04/davidhearst
Novosti, R. (2011, May 24). Orthodox church warns of hasty decisions over lenin reburial. Eurasian Review. Retrieved from http://www.eurasiareview.com/24052011-orthodox-church-warns-of-hasty-decisions-over-lenin-reburial/
Hannon, L. (Performer) (2011). Russia celebrates victory over nazi germany with vast parade [Web series episode]. In China Daily Online News. China Daily. Retrieved from http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/2011-05/10/content_12529280.htm
Culture minister wants to bury lenin. (2012, June 14). United Press International. Retrieved from http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2012/06/14/Culture-minister-wants-to-bury-Lenin/UPI-53901339692692/
Culture minister wants to bury lenin. (2012, June 14). United Press International. Retrieved from http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2012/06/14/Culture-minister-wants-to-bury-Lenin/UPI-53901339692692/
United Russia. (n.d.). Do you support the idea of dumping the body of vi lenin?. Retrieved from http://goodbyelenin.ru/index/results

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Non-Tariff Barriers 101: How to Hedge Against the Future of Protectionism

By Matthew Hayes

International business has grown exponentially over the past half-century, benefiting United States companies, communities, and workers. Although recent growth rates have slowed, international trade has expanded at an average annual rate of 6 percent since 1950, according to the World Trade Organization.

This growth is primarily the result of the spread of globalization, improvements in technology, finance and transportation, and, perhaps most importantly, reductions in country tariff levels. But, as national tariff levels have declined, new forms of protectionism have emerged. Collectively known as non-tariff barriers to trade (NTBs), analysts say these restrictions are the main culprit in the stalling of the Doha Development Round.

The Doha Round, which started in 2001, essentially came to a halt in 2008 due to disagreements on the future of NTBs, including agricultural subsidies, international standards, and trade rules for services.

NTBs take a variety of forms, including specific limitations on import quantities, onerous customs and administrative entry procedures, standards and regulations that are difficult to understand and satisfy, and government policies that distort trade.

Limitations on Trade
Simply put, NTBs are designed to limit imports by increasing the costs of international business. And setting physical limits on import quantities, creating price floors, placing fees on imports, and creating barriers to entry are typical NTB mechanisms. Fortunately, they often are relatively easy to identify and sometimes possible to avoid.

Strategies to limit trade often are accomplished by the use of quotas, import licensing requirements, proportion restrictions of foreign to domestic goods, minimum import price limits, embargoes, special supplementary duties, import credit discrimination, variable levies, and border taxes.

Entry Procedures and Abuses
The customs agencies of many countries are becoming an increasing burden to corporations interested in global expansion. Of course, the stated aim of these agencies is to protect the home country from global threats, both physical and economic. But sometimes implementing creative anti-dumping policies and establishing new tariff classifications, documentation requirements and administrative fees only serve to unfairly reduce competition.

The use of anti-dumping policies, which protect domestic markets by raising prices on imports predatorily priced below-cost, have become especially notorious in recent years. In fact, legitimate instances of dumping are few and far between.

Instead, dumping often is used as an excuse to limit international competition and bolster domestic industries. And today, the threat of dumping can come at any time and lead to tremendous losses.

The U.S. Commerce Department recently imposed anti-dumping tariffs ranging from 31%-250% on Chinese solar product imports. At a time when alternative energy investments are on the rise, the country that can expand the fastest will receive the best payouts. Whether this means that Chinese companies are dumping their goods or that the U.S. is using protectionist measures has yet to be seen.

Government Manipulation and Market Distortion
As international business and global supply chains have become more complex, governments have become more sophisticated at manipulating trade. This has led to price distortions and market inefficiencies.

In turn, one of the biggest problems in international trade is the tit-for-tat positions governments often take in an attempt to one-up each other. Thus, trade restrictions beget more restrictions, causing trade wars that can exact a large cost to both industries and consumers.

As a result of the U.S. tariff on Chinese solar products, the Chinese government has retaliated by accusing U.S. manufacturers of dumping polysilicon, the most costly material in solar cell production. These actions will inevitably cause costs to rise in the solar industries of both countries, creating a lose-lose situation for producers and consumers.

Becoming familiar with trade relations between the United States and target country markets, and closely monitoring events and procedures, can be an effective means to protect your business from costly trade manipulation. And this may take the shape of government procurement policies, export subsidies, countervailing duties, domestic assistance programs, orderly marketing agreements, and voluntary export restraints.

Ambiguous Standards and Regulations
Standards and regulations often are not well defined, pose real challenges, and are difficult to overcome. Thus, while a good may be perfectly acceptable in one country, it may not meet the minimum criteria necessary for sale in another.

Consequently, problems often arise regarding packaging and labeling requirements, and testing methods. But the abuse of standards and regulations can take many forms, simply serving as an obstacle to trade and investment.

Monitor and Strategize
As non-tariff barriers grow more prevalent and complex, businesses must learn to adapt. Strategies that continuously identify new trade barriers and establish creative ways around them are essential. The U.S. Department of Commerce offers a wide variety of services that can help U.S. firms avoid these pitfalls.

Importantly, to come to a successful completion of the Doha Round, American companies must work more closely with U.S. trade negotiators and provide up-to-date examples of foreign non-tariff barriers and their impact. In turn, the rules of the global game can be made more free and fair. And this is essential since international trade now contributes approximately $1 trillion to U.S. gross domestic product and supports one in five American jobs.

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Communism’s Ideological Evolution: From Marx to Mao


By Brandon Gimpelman

Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong are some of the great heroes of communist ideology. When Karl Marx first published The Communist Manifesto in 1848, he described communism as a specter haunting Europe. Marx thought it was only a matter of time before the workers of the world would unite and seize control of the means of production in a communist revolution; they had nothing to lose but their chains. It wasn’t until sometime afterward, however, that a brilliant young lawyer named Vladimir Lenin was able to put some of Marx’s ideas into practice. As the leading figure for the revolution in Russia up until his death, Lenin wrote his own interpretations of Marxist theory. Years later in China, an ambitious revolutionary named Mao Zedong was inspired by the writings of Marx, and the actions of Lenin. When Mao came into power as Chairman of the Communist Party of China, he practiced his own interpretation of communism. Consequently, Marxism, Leninism and Maoism explore the ideas of communism and liberalism in a unique way.

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx is a major indictment of the liberal regime type.  Marx contends, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” The class struggles that Marx speaks of are a direct result of the capitalist system. In Marxist theory, capitalism allows for two classes: those who own capital, and those who work for capital owners. The wealthy elite who own capital are referred to as the bourgeoisie. Conversely, the working class wage-laborers are called the proletariat.

For Marx, capitalism was the exploitation of the proletariat for the benefit of the bourgeoisie. He goes so far as to call the proletariat, “…slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois State.”  According to Marx, the only proper thing for the proletariat to do is break out in violent revolution against their capitalist rulers. “They smash to pieces machinery, they set factories ablaze, they seek to restore by force the vanished status of the workman in the Middle Ages.” A violent overthrow and destruction of the bourgeoisie was absolutely essential to creating the new society. It would be such that the proletariat, the workers themselves, would control the means of production. In doing so, they would acquire political supremacy and become the leading class.

The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class; and to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible


In theory, Marx saw a solution to the problem of class warfare as a result of capitalism. The solution was the extinction of the capitalist class.

It is important to note that Marx does not completely dismiss all of liberalism. In fact, Marx sees the value in capitalism for defeating feudal society, a system he considered to be far more evil. Marxism critiques capitalism more so than democracy. Marx simply views democracy as a subset of how capitalism works. Democracy is merely an illusion, or window dressing for how the elites stay in power. Democracy as a subset of capitalism, to Marx, was just another transitional phase of class society.

Marx was convinced that the capitalist system, like slavery and feudalism before it, would eventually be destroyed in a social revolution – this time eliminating class divisions among human beings altogether and ushering in communism, an era of global harmony and abundance.


A major question remained, however. There was a certain ambiguity about how the new communist system should actually function. When the proletariat was organized as the new ruling class, would a utopia exist as it did in theory?

            Vladimir Lenin provided a good answer to this question in State and Revolution. Lenin touches upon an idea first proposed by Friedrich Engels, Marx’s lifelong friend and co-author of The Communist Manifesto. After the working-class revolution had taken place, the proletariat would establish a state that works for it. However, such a state was only a transitional phase that would eventually lead to a purely communist system. This phase was called a “semi-state” by Engels. Lenin sums up this entire concept when he writes, “The replacement of the bourgeois by the proletarian state is impossible without a violent revolution. The abolition of the proletarian state , i.e. of all states, is only possible through “withering away.” Lenin argues that the state exists because of class antagonisms, and that it continues to exist as a means of reconciling them. In order to transition to a system where there is no need for the state, differences between the classes must be reconciled, and this can only occur with the destruction of the bourgeoisie. Over time, remaining class differences would simply disappear.

            When it came down to the actuality of performing a communist revolution, Lenin did it first. In 1917, Lenin returned from his studies in Switzerland to overthrow the provisional government of Russia. Unlike Marx had predicted, the first communist revolution actually occurred in a widely unindustrialized country.  In order to rally his countrymen together, Lenin proposed the idea for the revolution  to be led by a group of Marxist intellectuals who would be consistently devoted to revolutionary activity. This group was called “the vanguard of the proletariat,” or a “party of professional revolutionaries.” The vanguard too was supposed to “wither away” once the revolution occurred, but in reality, this group of elites never truly gave up power, and became The Communist Party.

            Lenin also says some interesting things about democracy. He writes, “Democracy for an insignificant minority, democracy for the rich – that is the democracy of the capitalist society.” When the rule of the proletariat would occur, a more inclusive democracy would exist to protect the rights of the poor. Lenin contends, however, that democracy is really only a formal recognition of equality. In this sense, his belief is no radical departure from that of Marx. Lenin writes:

Democracy is of great importance for the working class in its struggle for freedom against the capitalists. But democracy is by no means a limit one may overstep; it is only one of the stages in the course of development from feudalism to capitalism, and from capitalism to Communism.


When Lenin talks about freedom, he once again echoes Marx. Lenin believed that freedoms under a liberal system were merely illusions to give the oppressed people a false sense of liberty.

            Vladimir Lenin considered himself to be a convinced Marxist at young age. In many ways, Lenin simply echoes or clarifies Marx. Where the two differ is with the idea of the “vanguard of the proletariat” rising up to lead the revolution. Lenin thought that this group should be organized with a strict hierarchy. He argued that the party should practice what he called, “democratic centralism,” meaning that once the party’s Central Committee had rendered a decision about any given issue, the debate should end immediately. This is somewhat of a departure from Marx who believed that the revolution would simply unite all the workers of the world, and no such vanguard would be necessary.

            Years later, China experienced a communist revolution of its own. After nearly twenty-three years of civil war, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) came to power and chose Mao Zedong as its Chairman. By watching Lenin and reading Marx, Mao adopted, interpreted, and invented many new ideas for the communist ideology.

            Mao’s writings suggest a complete attack on all things liberal. According to Mao, “In revolutionary organizations liberalism is extremely harmful. It is a corrosive that disrupts unity, undermines solidarity, induces inactivity, and creates dissension.” Mao also discusses the idea of liberalism as being too passive, but that it may be overcome with the active spirit of communism.

            Mao’s leadership style was that of a totalitarian despot. In a 1937 speech, Mao idealizes Stalin for his contributions as the leader of the world revolution. He supports the idea of a revolutionary front, much like Lenin when he suggested the concept of the “vanguard of the proletariat.” He asks, “If we did not have a Stalin, who would give the orders?” Mao essentially takes the idea of the “vanguard” and goes one step further, suggesting that it is entirely necessary to have a ruling body that won’t “wither away” because it is needed to make important decisions. This idea is a radical departure from Marx and Engels.

            In conclusion, Marx, Lenin, and Mao held their own unique views on communism. Marx, as its founder, established a broad base for interpretation of his theory. Lenin expanded on these ideas when he proposed that an elite group of revolutionaries should exist to lead the revolution on the proper path. Mao took it one step further and suggested that this elite group was necessary even after the communist revolution was successful. And so, the specter that was communism haunted Europe for three quarters of a century. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, signaling the end of communism in Europe. China, today, still considers themselves to be a communist state, but it is arguably not so. 

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Salmond and Cameron Quarrel Over Scottish Referendum on Independence

By: Alexandra Fasulo
October 30th, 2012

In the near future, Scotland faces two important issues: allowing younger citizens to participate in the scheduled 2014 Referendum and the impact of this Referendum’s results if Scotland becomes an independent state. Tensions involving these issues have plagued the country and hopefully a compromise between the opposing parties will be reached soon.

British Prime Minister, David Cameron, recently announced that 16 and 17 year olds will be permitted to participate in the 2014 Referendum on Scottish Independence. This new development on the referendum will replace the request for a devolution max, “devo-max,” which would have been a question on the referendum involving transferring more power to the Scottish capital Holyrood, just short of independence.

Instead, the referendum will contain a simple “yes” or “no” question, asking Scottish citizens if they want complete independence from Great Britain. Alex Salmond, the Scottish Prime Minister, was not pleased with the removal of the devo-max option. Polls show that the addition of 16 and 17 year olds will not help sway the vote in the direction of the Scottish National Party. Only 26% of teenagers in Scotland are in favor of complete independence from Great Britain.

Salmond is under the impression that England will gladly play “kind neighbor” with Scotland after a successful referendum. He has stated that he expects British regulators to continue to supervise Scottish banks and bail out the Royal Bank of Scotland, even if independence is achieved. Salmond also wants to continue to use the British pound as Scotland’s national currency. However, Cameron states he has yet to be approached by Salmond for these arrangements.

Another dilemma facing Salmond’s independence plan is the question of automatic European Union membership. Salmond assumes that if Scotland were to secede from Great Britain, it would remain a member of the EU without question. In order for Scotland to acquire the answer to this question, England would have to file a report with the European Commission. However, England has stated that they have no interest in pursuing something they do not believe will occur.

The President of the EU, Jose Manuel Barroso, recently made a statement that an independent Scotland would be considered an entirely new state and would therefore have to apply to become an EU member state. However, senior members of the European Commission believe that Scotland would not have to applyHowever, Salmond’s assumptions have been damaging to his credibility; some Scottish newspapers have branded him an “EU liar.”

In the meantime, Salmond has been making offensive statements towards the British, calling them “fundamentally unattractive” and “thugs and racists.” Salmond’s nationalist party, the SNP, feels that the profits England reaps from the Scottish offshore oil deposits could be considered “international larceny.” Alex Salmond is the first Prime Minister from this extremist Scottish Party, and is determined to bring about a referendum on independence for the second time in Scotland’s history.

England’s Conservative Party has said that they want Scotland to be independent from Great Britain. The British Labour Party, however, would lose a substantial amount of parliamentary seats. The Labour Party of Scotland has been pursing a “No” campaign, emphasizing Scotland’s glorious history being a part of Great Britain. Cameron has stated that he is determined to keep the British “family” together. Additionally, the successful London Olympic Games this past summer strengthened the arguments of those who oppose separation.

For now, the referendum is set to take place in autumn of 2014. England argued that this would give Scotland substantial time to articulate their arguments, where others wanted the referendum to happen within a year due to the uncertainty damaging the Scottish economy. However, Salmond and Cameron signed the Section 30 Order in Edinburgh and concluded, “A statutory order to be legislated at Westminster, granting Holyrood powers to hold a single-question independence referendum by the end of 2014.” The two leaders have stated that they will work together for the best interests of Scotland and England. Now the goal is for Salmond and Cameron to stay on good terms between now and autumn 2014.


“Alex Salmond, Little Englander” The Economist. January 21st, 2012. .
Buchanan, Raymond. “Has Scottish government ignored its own independence consultation?” BBC News: Scotland Politics. October 23rd, 2012. .
Cook, James. “Analysis of referendum consultation responses” BBC News: Scotland Politics. October 23rd, 2012. .
Cusick, James. “Alex Salmond ‘caught out’ on EU legal advice” The Independent. October 28th, 2012. .
“Deal launches independence debate” The Belfast Telegraph. October 15th, 2012. .
“Scottish independence: legal order goes to parliaments” BBC News: Scotland Politics. October 22nd, 2012. .
“Scottish independence: UK ministers not seeking advice on Scotland in EU” BBC News: Scotland Politics. November 1st, 2012. .
“The economy, stupid” The Economist. June 30th, 2012. .
“The post-Braveheart generation” The Economist. October 12th, 2012. .

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International Institutions and Stability

By Eric Gomez

The international system can best be thought of as a complex web of economic, political, and social relationships that are constantly changing to reflect new realities. This astounding complexity is reflected in the various theoretical approaches and viewpoints that scholars of international relations have used to make sense of it all. One of the most important assumptions made by most theorists has to do with the anarchic nature of the international system. Unlike domestic political systems, there is no official hierarchy to the international system; no one state has the final say over what other states can and cannot do.[1]

One of the most detrimental effects of anarchy is the uncertainty that it produces in international politics, which leads to mistrust among states over each other’s intentions. Since the end of the Cold War, some of the negative effects of anarchy have been mitigated by the existence of a global hegemon, the United States. However, recent events have made it apparent that American power, and likewise its hegemonic status, is declining while the relative power of other states, especially China, is on the rise. It is in the interest of the US to allow other states’ relative power to increase while it continues to build and strengthen international institutions. By strengthening international institutions, the US could put its political weight behind a rules-based international order where less uncertainty should lead to more stability among states.

America’s status as the global hegemon was taken mostly without question in the decade immediately following the end of the Cold War; the United States emerged from the Cold War as the global hegemon in a unipolar world. Sterling-Folker defines a hegemon as “a very powerful state, which provides self-interested global or regional stability.”[2] American policy-makers were quick to recognize their new status in the world, and government agencies responsible for foreign policy adopting strategic positions that reflected this new reality.[3] The hegemonic status of the US largely rests on its massive economy and its ability to deploy military force to nearly any part of the world in a moments’ notice. During the 1990s, other great powers, which would be the most likely source of a “balancing” or restoration of a more even global distribution of power, began to scale back their military expenditures.[4]

The status of the United States as a power without rival has cracked as a result of a string of events. The terrorist attacks of 9/11, the disastrous Iraq invasion of 2003 and the subsequent quagmire there, and the 2008 economic collapse all had profound negative effects on the US’s relative power. Christopher Layne believes that “US hegemony cannot endure forever,” and “if this ongoing shift in the distribution of relative (world) power continues, new poles of power in the international system are likely to emerge in the next decade…”[5] The most recent candidate to emerge as a challenger to the US is China, a state that has experienced massive economic and military growth over the last several decades.

Since it is clear that US relative power is in decline, the question that scholars of international relations must answer is: what plan of action will take the international system into a better future as the system becomes increasingly anarchic? The path that offers the most potential for preventing the negative effects of anarchy is the strengthening of international institutions. It is in the self-interest of states to cooperate via institutions because of the wide variety of benefits that institutions give to member states, including the reduction of transaction costs and the facilitation of reciprocity.[6] Institutions also assist in managing distributional conflicts. One of the biggest barriers to state cooperation is that states often have trouble agreeing on how cooperation is to be conducted so that the benefits of cooperation are distributed fairly. Institutions provide “constructed focal points” in cooperation issues[7], which help allay fears of unbalanced distribution. By providing a structure for cooperation between states to take place, the collective goals of states can be reached. In short, “international institutions help states achieve collective gains.”[8]

International institutions have clearly been successful in mitigating conflict, encouraging peace in the international system, and creating more interdependence between states that serves as positive reinforcement for the maintenance and strengthening of institutions. The most important thing that the US can do going forward is to bind itself more closely with international institutions. The George W. Bush administration “either steamrolled or ignored” international institutions[9] when making controversial policy choices like the invasion of Iraq. If the most powerful state in the international system is unwilling to abide by international institutions, then the institutions are perceived of as being weak. It doesn’t make sense for other states, especially rising powers, to follow what institutions say if the US does not respect them. Unfortunately, America has set the precedent that a state can get away with anything so long as it is powerful enough. This type of thinking only encourages instability and anarchy.

The purpose of international institutions is not to change the distribution of power or make the world a fairer place. For the most part, institutions still reflect the wills and goals of powerful states. The critical role that institutions play in international relations is that of providing clarity to relations. They make interactions and politics between states more transparent and open. This allows for a greater degree of trust, which in turn leads to more peace and stability in the international system. This is why the United States should focus on building and strengthening international institutions. Greater trust among states is crucial to combat anarchy, and this trust is best realized through international institutions.

Works Cited

Douthat, Ross. “A Very Liberal Intervention.” The New York Times. March 21, 2011, Page  A25 New York Edition.

Goldstein, Joshua S. and Jon C. Pevehouse. International Relations. Boston: Pearson, 2012.

Keohane, Robert O. “International Institutions: Can Interdependence Work?” Foreign Policy 110 (Spring 1998): 82-96.

Keohane, Robert O. and Lisa L. Martin. “The Promise of Institutionalist Theory.” International Security 20, no. 1 (Summer 1995): 39-51.

Layne, Christopher. “The Unipolar Illusion Revisited.” International Security 31, no. 2 (Fall 2006): 7-41.

Sterling-Folker, Jennifer. “Neoliberalism.” In International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity, edited by Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki, and Steve Smith, 116-134 Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Wohlforth, William C. “The Stability of a Unipolar World.” International Security 24, no. 1 (Summer 1999): 5-41.

[1] Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse, International Relations (Boston: Pearson, 2012), 41.

[2] Jennifer Sterling-Folker, “Neoliberalism,” in International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity, ed. Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki, and Steve Smith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 120.

[3] William C. Wohlforth, “The Stability of a Unipolar World,” International Security 24, no. 1 (Summer 1999): 5.

[4] Ibid., 18.

[5] Christopher Layne, “The Unipolar Illusion Revisited,” International Security 31, no. 2 (Fall 2006): 37-38.

[6] Robert O. Keohane and Lisa L. Martin, “The Promise of Institutionalist Theory,” International Security 20, no. 1 (Summer, 1995): 42.

[7] Ibid., 45.

[8] Robert O. Keohane, “International Institutions: Can Interdependence Work?,” Foreign Policy 110, (Spring 1998): 87.

[9] Ross Douthat, “A Very Liberal Intervention,” The New York Times, March 21, 2011, Page A25, New York edition.

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