Why President-Elect Trump’s Foreign Policy Scares Me

So far, it appears as though Donald Trump’s foreign policy will break the habits that the modern United. This post will detail one of my biggest concerns about the direction of Trump’s foreign policy, or what little of it he has actually specified.

In the days since his election, Donald Trump has shocked the world with his movements on the international scale. He accepted a phone call of congratulations from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, insulting the Chinese who view Taiwan as a renegade province. Since 1979, the United States has agreed with China and has viewed Taiwan as a part of China, not a sovereign nation.

Furthermore, he relationship between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin has been nothing less than sketchy throughout the campaign. With wishy-washy descriptions of their relationship, meetings, and an open support of Trump from Putin, the world has witnessed an unexpected friendship form between the two super powers who have been at odds for over half a century.

Recently, the CIA released a statement claiming that Russian hackers had infiltrated various parts of the election in favor of Donald Trump, calling into question the integrity and stability of US democracy and the presidential election. Alt-right republicans seem to be supporting Trump no matter what, even if that means brushing off the possible involvement of Russia in his victory. This is ironic considering that for years Republicans had been the biggest critiques of Vladimir Putin.

On top of that, Putin has been an adamant backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a tyrant who has committed numerous human rights abuses against his own people in the name of maintaining his power. This is what scares me so much about the foreign policy of Trump, who says the way to defeat the Islamic State is to back Assad and help him regain power in Syria. In Trump’s words, “My attitude was you’re fighting Syria, Syria is fighting ISIS, and you have to get rid of ISIS.”

One only has to look at Assad’s opinion of a Trump Presidency, which he is looking forward to. In a interview on Portuguese television, Assad says that he and Trump can be natural allies.

“We always say we wish for the United States to be nonpartisan and to respect international law and not interfere in other countries in the world and, of course, to stop supporting terrorists in Syria.” These are the words of Assad, who calls the people rebelling against his tyranny terrorists, and in condensed words, basically says he always wishes the United States to stay out of and ignore human rights abuses. This is not a claim that the United States is innocent in the department of human rights abuses and war crimes, but how is the leader of the free world to support someone like Assad?

This will create even more hatred for the United States and the western world. Furthermore, focusing on helping Assad has recently shown to help ISIS, which was able to capture a Russian base in Palmyra while Russia and Assad were focusing on taking control of Aleppo. Because of this, the failing ISIS can possibly make a significant comeback.

 

The sheer ignorance, volatility, and pride of Donald Trump has so far proven him to be an embarrassing figure of foreign policy, and we can only suspect as much during his presidency.

 

International Event: Spain and Latin America Discussion Night

On October 21, 2016, the Global Engagement Fellows hosted a discussion group at Second Wind coffee, focusing on Latin America and Spain.

The discussion group consisted of students interested in studying abroad in Latin American countries, students simply interested in the Latin American culture, and a few students who had studied abroad in a Latin American country who were able to offer some wisdom to the prospective travelers.

I mostly spoke to Sindhu Garimella and Katherine Voss, two Global Engagement Fellows. Sindhu had studied abroad in Spain for a semester, living with a host family who was adamant about avoiding English in the household.

Sindhu explained how when she first arrived, being in a 100 percent Spanish-speaking environment was very tough, and she would have to think a moment before being able to respond to questions and have conversations.

However, at the end of her journey, she was able to have fluent and mostly unburdened dialogue in Spanish. In fact, she said a big part of the culture shock upon returning to the United States was being in an environment where she didn’t have to take a moment to translate and speak Spanish.

 

Hearing the stories from those studying abroad was both enciteful and intriguing. Before, I hadn’t considered studying abroad in a Latin American country but the stories of culture and their experiences made me consider it. It was very interesting to consider being placed in an environment where people actually avoid speaking English for the sake of speaking their native language.

In the United States, foreigners are often expected to speak in English no matter what. It is interesting to see this attitude reflected elsewhere, mostly amongst Sindhu’s host family.

Currently taking German myself, I’m excited to be placed in a situation where I can only speak German to communicate. I look forward to the challenge and the experience of having my world flipped upside down!

International Group: The Informed Citizens Discussion Group Fall 2016

For my sophomore year of college, I decided to shift from an international book club to a discussion group which focuses on diving into the deep issues of current events, both domestic and foreign.

The Informed Citizens Discussion Group(ICDG) is an organization on campus which organizes small discussion sections to spread awareness and understanding of pressing issues from all around the world.

I was initially attracted to the group because I have a deep-rooted interest in current events and global affairs. Since I was old enough to understand the dynamics of politics and related issues I have been drawn to talking to anyone and everyone about what is occurring in the world. Since starting college and with the introduction to larger classes, there have been less opportunities to sit down and have a discussion with a group of equally invested individuals.

I decided to join the Informed Citizens Discussion Group because I knew of a few other Global Engagement Fellows who were involved in the program and really enjoyed themselves. I signed up for the Wednesday time slot which held a meeting every Wednesday from 4:30-5:20.

The experience was exactly as I have imagined and hoped it would be. Every week I was able to engage in conversations about a wide array of current events. The group gave me another reason to stay up to date with articles and be actively involved in seeking out information about news.

Being the presidential election season, the discussions were definitely interesting, to say the least. I am glad to have been able to be a part of a gathering of students who were each so passionate about what they were discussing. Most of the students held generally liberal views, yet there was a pleasant sprinkling of differing opinions which kept the meetings from becoming an echo-box of reinforcement.

Discussions ranged from talking of Kim Jong-un’s recent theatrics to an in-depth analysis of the Oklahoma state questions which were on the ballot in November. We discussed the human right’s abuses being carried about by Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, the cabinet appointments that president-elect Donald Trump has been making, the formation and rising prominence of the ‘Alt-Right’, the death and history of Fidel Castro, immigration reform and polarizing issues.

The discussion group taught me to sit and listen rather than thinking of only of what I am going to say next. It was interesting and exciting to sit and listen to 10 different voices and opinions engaging with each other. Some were very conflicting while others were reinforcing and supportive. Being exposed to differing thought processes encouraged me to be introspective, analyzing my own opinions and the reasoning behind them. Surprisingly I found myself taking a different stance on a topic by the end of a discussion session, more than once.

The Informed Citizens Discussion Group gave me a safe spot to engage in serious conversation once a week with no ties to grades or repercussions for having a lack of understanding on a topic.

I look forward to continuing participation in the group for the Spring 2017 semester, especially as the Trump presidency begins to take hold and effect the United States and global community.

A Response to the 2016 Oklahoma State Questions

The 2016 general election is just around the corner, in five days to be exact. Who would have thought the presidential election would come down to Hilary Clinton vs Donald Trump? It’s something out of an SNL skit, for sure.

But what is often overlooked in these elections are the smaller ballot decisions which have effects on one’s local life. The presidential election outcome is actually less likely to have an effect on the average person than local elections, obviously. In this upcoming election, there are state questions on the ballot which have the ability to drastically change Oklahoman life.

Allow me to elaborate on my views of them. The quick descriptions of these ballots were brought to you by ballotpedia.org and okpolicy.org.

State Question 776 was designed to assert that all methods of execution would be constitutionally allowed unless prohibited by the United States Constitution and designated statutorily by the legislature.  It gives the Legislature the power to designate any method of execution, prohibits the reduction of death sentence due to an invalid method of execution, and prohibits the death penalty from being ruled “cruel and unusual punishment” or unconstitutional according to the Oklahoma Constitution

My vote? No

The question would essentially make it so that Oklahoma cannot deem the death penalty unconstitutional. It would place the death penalty above the law, bypassing the system of checks and balances that keeps justice.

Furthermore, 776  is likely to be opposed by higher courts as soon as it is passed. Why waste the time and resources?

State Question 777 was designed to establish a constitutional right for farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices. The amendment bans any new law regulating or prohibiting an agricultural practice unless it can be shown to have a “compelling state interest.” That means any new agricultural regulations would have to pass strict scrutiny, the legal standard used for laws that deprive people of fundamental rights like free speech, gun ownership, or religious freedom.

NO. NO NO NO. 

A huge, loud, resounding, echoing NO.

This bill would make it so that “farming” is a constitutional right; any new laws and farming can easily be dismissed as an infringement on “constitutional rights.” If technology currently used by farmers is later found to be environmentally harmful, or inhumane, new regulations would be extremely likely to be turned down on this defense.

State Question 777 would allow an unchecked farming industry to develop in Oklahoma under the guise of giving citizens the “right to farm.” Big farming industries would be drawn to Oklahoma because they could claim protection under this amendment.

Think about this: ANY NEW LAW proposed to regulate farming practices would be held under the same level of scrutiny as new gun laws! I’m sorry, but the freedom to farm is not equal to the rights to freedom of speech, religion, and the right to bare arms. It shouldn’t receive the same protections as these fundamental rights. Farming ought to be regulated by ever changing environmental regulations, and Oklahoma shouldn’t become a safe haven for big corporations to farm without fear of checks on their farming practices.

State Question 779 was designed to increase the state sales tax by 1 percent to generate revenue for education funding. Of the total revenue generated by the new tax, 60 percent would go to providing a salary increase of at least $5,000 for every public school teacher. The remaining funds would be divided between public schools (9.5 percent), higher education (19.25 percent), career and technology education (3.25 percent), and early childhood education (8 percent). The State Board of Equalization would be required to certify that revenues from the new tax are not being used to supplant existing funds.

Yes. While it feels odd to be to vote to increase taxes, I’m confident this measure would be successful in improving education in the state of Oklahoma. It’s estimated that, if passed,  State Question 779 would add $615 million per year in education funding.

According to Oklahoma Watch. Org , in the 2012-2013 school year, the amount spent on individual students, at $7,912 ranked 49th in the nation along side teacher pay, which shared the same ranking. Oklahoma is struggling to keep and recruit teachers, even the ones who are educated at the University of Oklahoma.

While some claim that a penny tax would harm the poor, one also has to understand that teachers in Oklahoma ARE the poor. The students who are receiving one of the worst educations in the United States, they BECOME the poor. Oklahoma desperately needs this tax if it wishes to reverse the state of it’s education.

State Question 780 and 781: 780 was designed to reclassify certain property offenses and simple drug possession as misdemeanor crimes, and 781 was designed to use money saved by reclassifying certain property and drug crimes as misdemeanors, as outlined in State Question 780, to fund rehabilitative programs.

This is a simple yes for me, to both measures.

I don’t believe the state should be spending ludicrous amounts of money to imprison people for small offenses. The money saved by altering the charge severity would be used for rehabilitation programs, in turn reducing the amount of crime and drug abuse in Oklahoma, and in turn saving even more money.

Take these facts from the Vera Institute of Justice:

IN FISCAL YEAR 2010, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC) had $441.8 million in prison expenditures. However, the state also had $11.6 million in prison-related costs outside the department’s budget. The total cost of Oklahoma’s prisons—to incarcerate an average daily population of 24,549—was therefore $453.4 million, of which 2.6 percent were costs outside the corrections budget.

Though some would like to say this measure would “legalize marijuana” and “make criminals commit more crimes,” it is simply not true. The measure would aim to rehabilitate and help those caught with small amounts of drugs, rather than sending them to prison, an expensive process which also has been proven to lead to harder drug exposure and abuse. It’s time for Oklahoma to fix it’s overgrown prison problem.

State Question 790 was designed to repeal Section 5 of Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which prohibits public money from being spent for religious purposes.

Coming from a Christian, I have to say, no. This is for a couple of reasons.

Being that religious institutions are already tax exempt, it doesn’t make sense for them to receive tax-generated money.

The state should not endorse or fund any one religion, nor should it endorse and fund any processes related to all of them.

Scholarships given to students who then decide to attend a private religious school have already been held constitutional.

Even if the bill is passed, the ten commandments will still most likely be removed from the state capitol grounds.

State Question 792 was designed to allow grocery stores and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer and wine. Currently these stores are prohibited from selling beer containing above 3.2 percent alcohol by volume, as well as all wine and all liquor. SQ 792 would also allow Oklahoma liquor stores to sell refrigerated beer and alcohol accessories (i.e., sodas, corkscrews). The measure would allow multiple beer and wine stores to be owned by one corporation (ownership would be limited to two stores per person if spirits are sold). Currently individual liquor store owners are not allowed to have more than one store. If SQ 792 passes, these changes would take effect on October 1, 2018

There is ALSO a companion bill which will go into effect if this bill passes, SB 383. It allows direct shipment of wine into Oklahoma, increases the clerk age for selling beer from 16 to 18, and establishes other regulations on the sale of alcohol.

Yes. 

Oklahoma currently has the strictest laws regulating alcohol. It is time for Oklahoma to drop the outdated laws.

Being that this practice is legal in almost every other state, the proposed negative effects on liquor stores are unlikely to be realized. Passage of this bill would make the purchase of alcohol more convenient for consumers and it would open the industry in Oklahoma. Liquor stores would be allowed to sell corkscrews and mixers, increasing the likelihood that customers will use these stores as a “one-stop” place for their alcohol needs.

The bill would also allow liquor stores to sell refrigerated beer, allowing crafted and specialty beer to be sold in these stores. It would open the door for Oklahoma beer makers, at a time when beer crafting is an up and rising hobby. Some crafted beers cannot be stored without refrigeration.

The only negative part of this bill is that it could possibly allow larger corporations to open chains of beer and wine stores in Oklahoma.

The measure would allow multiple beer and wine stores to be owned by one corporation (ownership would be limited to two stores per person if spirits are sold). Currently individual liquor store owners are not allowed to have more than one store.

While these stores wouldn’t be able to sell liquor, it is still something to consider. However, the benefits outweigh the negatives.

 

This coming Tuesday is going to change a lot for both America as well as the state of Oklahoma. If you’re over 18 years old, please vote. Don’t brag about not being registered to vote. Don’t let the mudslinging convince you that political action is arbitrary. Don’t allow yourself to concede to political apathy. If you’re not voting, you DO NOT lose responsibility for things that may go wrong, because you have the opportunity to make a difference.

Not acting on your right to vote is a vote for whatever side you oppose.

 

 

 

 

Intro to Mass Communication: Blog Question #1

What question drives your interest in media? What question(s) are you hoping you will find the answer to regarding your media world?


The question that drives my interest in media is a resounding, “What is the truth?” As I’ve grown, I’ve been exposed to a multitude of ideas and points of view, and it seems as though every outlet of news presents events in their own scope. With a scope comes in the inevitable field of view that isn’t captured within that circle.

What is left around the edges? What do these scopes leave out that are integral to true understanding of what is happening?

From what school curriculums leave out, to every fact ommited in the new editions of textbooks, to the focus that news organizations adopt when reporting.

These questions of ambiguity created by these purposeful limitations drive me to delve into the world of media. I want to expose myself to the techniques used to frame information in biased ways, the underground realms of news that the mainstream media leaves out, and the psychological aspect of our ever deepening obsession with the world of media. When one masters these techniques they can escape the pre-made mold of knowledge enforced to optimize citizen submission and reduce backlash.

Why are we ever obsessed with media? Does it harm our essence of human being? Is it inescapable that we would eventually come to this point of digital interaction? How does digital media obsession drive political and global forces?

The search for unfiltered knowledge drives my interest in media.