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Maria Gershuni: Russia

in International/The Magellan Project

Maria Gershuni, class of 2019, spent her summer working for the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) in Moscow as an intern for the Euro-Atlantic program. She is a European and Eurasian concentrator at SAIS and found the internship through her department, which sent out a list of available opportunities in Europe. Upon receiving an offer, she replied with a definitive “Absolutely.” A native of New York, Maria grew up speaking Russian with her parents and was thrilled to share her experiences living and working in Moscow. Could you briefly describe what the RIAC does? It is a Russian international affairs think tank that was set up in 2010. They’re a little different than the way Americans think of think tanks because they don’t have a lot of their own scholars. I think in Russia the concept of a think tank is relatively new. The way they’ve adopted that model is…

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From the Editor 2017-2018: Parting Thoughts

in News

I want to personally congratulate all of our SAIS Class of 2018 graduates, as they put a close to this chapter and begin their next. I want to extend my sincerest congratulations to my graduating staff, because while they were defending theses, finishing capstone, or looking for employment, they were the glue to this organization, and made this paper run. By name, I want to thank my Deputy Editor-in-chief, Caroline Yarber. She made my job so much easier by being an engaging leader, and steering the direction of the paper. Another special thank you goes to Elizabeth Goffi, the departing Executive Editor. She is the example of an amazing editor, and undoubtedly saved us a lot of trouble by her diligence and instincts. I want to also thank my departing Nanjing and Washington Bureau Chiefs, Liz Witcher and Issy Schmidt. Your leadership helped me immensely in running this paper, and…

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Shortage of SGA Candidates in SAIS Europe

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By: ERIC CLAVER Bologna: The Trump Administration is not the only D.C. government short on applicants. Knowledgeable sources tell the SAIS Observer that not a single student from SAIS Europe ran to be Vice President of the 2019 Student Government Association (SGA). To ensure that SGA leadership represents all SAIS campuses, the president is always a second-year M.A. student from D.C. while the vice president is always a second-year M.A. student from Bologna. Ordinarily, this would not be a problem. However, this year, no one applied for the position of vice president. Instead, two students ran for the Bologna Representative, Becky Kim (V.P. of Internal Affairs of Global Women in Leadership, V.P. of External Affairs of the Law and International Organizations Society, President of Christian Fellowship) and Dylan Parkes (Bologna SGA member, Co-President of the Russian Club). Sources claim that the SGA in D.C. did not want to run another…

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The Consul-General’s General Consolation

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By: DANIEL BURKE NANJING: Students shuffled in excitedly with high hopes of what’s to come. As the seats fill front to back, whispers spread side to side: “did you hear…”, “any idea…”, “I wonder….” Yet, when consul-general Kazuyuki Katayama enters the room, an expectant hush, a pregnant calm, descends. On March 3rd, students at the Hopkins – Nanjing Center (HNC) were treated to a high-caliber guest lecturer: consul-general Dr. Kazuyuki Katayama. Taking time off from work at the Japanese consulate in Shanghai, Dr. Katayama took to the podium and delivered a message of connection, tension, and hope to an auditorium full of HNC students. Sitting in the front row, MAIS student Ben Miles described the consul-general as “a very skilled diplomat” and suggested that he could “feel his concern for China-Japan relations and his desire to improve them.” Dr. Katayama began by emphasizing the “win-win” nature of the economic partnership…

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China’s Recent Political Shake-ups: Perspectives from Nanjing

in News

By: BRIAN HART NANJING – When the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wrapped up its 19th Party Congress in October 2017, it became clear that CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping would be staying on past the customary two terms as party leader. Breaking with tradition, no heir-apparent was promoted to the CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee – the seven-man committee that rules China – leaving no one to take over when Xi’s second term would end in 2022. Yet, it still came as a surprise when the CCP Central Committee “proposed” a constitutional amendment to formally remove presidential term limits, allowing Xi to serve indefinitely. In China, when the CCP Central Committee “proposes” something, it happens, which is why on March 11, the National People’s Congress (NPC) voted in favor of removing term limits, with only two delegates of 2,964 voting against it. The removal of presidential term limits has been a…

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Spain and the Politics of Disregard

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By: LLUIS DALMAU Bologna: October 1, 2017 was the starting point of an institutional crisis in Spain that had been developing for years. The 2008 financial crash, the 2012 Eurozone crisis, a corrupt and dishonest political class, years of social and ideological tension and a government that disregards societal demands have set the scene for a disruptive period in the Iberian peninsula. A year later, the international media intensely covered the Spanish national and military police using violence to remove voters from polling stations and getting rid of ballot boxes. Now, nine members of the former Catalan government are in prison and an increasing number of Catalan politicians are going into self-imposed exile while tension on the streets keeps rising. The main roads of Catalonia are still being blocked and demonstrations are being held regularly. While the secessionist movement is clearly the main crisis for the Spanish state, it is…

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A Case for Restraint: Bipartisan Cooperation on U.S. Foreign Policy

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By: DONALD KEYS WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Walter Jones (R-NC) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) spoke at SAIS on Tuesday, March 6.  The talk on bipartisan cooperation in American foreign policy was moderated by Dean Vali Nasr. Both congressmen serve on the Armed Services Committee. The tone of the forum was very amicable as the Democratic and Republican Members of Congress praised each other’s accomplishments so far in office. They disagreed on fundamental aspects of U.S. activities overseas, but were united in the desire for more public debate on the subject. They were each given ten minutes to speak about an area of their choice. Representative Jones spent his time talking about Afghanistan and his efforts to get Congress to debate U.S. involvement in the region. Representative Khanna spoke on U.S. involvement in Yemen and how restraint in use of force does not equal becoming isolationist. Dean Nasr asked the congressmen why…

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The Kakehashi Project & the US-Japan Relationship: An Interview with Nari Konno

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By: JANE SCHOTT Washington: In December 2017, ten students from SAIS DC took part in the Kakehashi Project, an exchange program coordinated by the Embassy of Japan. Read about Shiyana’s experience of the trip here. Before spring break, Jane sat down with Nari Konno, the Director of the Kakehashi Project, to learn more about its history, goals and impact. That interview has been transcribed here with minor edits by The SAIS Observer. Nari Konno is the Press Public Relations Officer at the Embassy of Japan in Washington D.C. Jane Schott is a second year American Foreign Policy concentrator at SAIS who participated in the Kakehashi Project this past January. Before attending SAIS, Jane spent two years working in Yamagata, Japan as an English teacher for the JET Program. Jane Schott: Would you mind telling us about the history of the Kakehashi Project? Nari Konno: It started in 2013, and it…

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SAIS Think Tank to Close Doors after 12 Years

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By: JONIEL CHA WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, April 6, the South Korean government formally announced that it will no longer fund the U.S.-Korea Institute (USKI), a think tank housed within SAIS’ Korea Studies program. Without the financial support, SAIS will be forced to close the USKI after 12 years. The decision was met with shock and sadness by USKI staff and affiliates including SAIS faculty, students, and the broader D.C. research community. The SAIS Korea Club has responded to the news with a statement via Facebook and email, published here in full: According to a report from the Chosun Ilbo, a leaked memo in an e-mail from the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP) to the Blue House (South Korea’s White House counterpart) revealed the official reason for closure. A “lack of transparency and sloppy management” prompted the South Korean National Assembly to cut its funding. Seong Kyoung-ryung,…

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South Korean Youth Reflect on a United Korea at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

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By: SARAH HEYWOOD Pyeongchang: Aside from being perhaps the coldest Winter Olympics on record, the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games were historically significant for another reason. For the first time in more than ten years, North and South Korean athletes marched under the same flag. There has been a lot of media speculation about the significance of a united Korea at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Was it a sign of thawing relations between the two nations or was it all just part of a North Korean ‘charm offensive’ to distract from the real issues at hand? In the opinion of Jang Jae-wook, a 24-year old preparing for the public service exam, “It all seems like a lie. It seems like on the surface, North Korea is pretending to be friendly and acting like it wants reconciliation, while behind the scenes it keeps developing nuclear weapons. It was like that in the…

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