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Opinion

From the Editors 2018-2019

in Opinion

T.J. Sjostrom Editor-in-chief Dear reader, It is my distinct privilege to work with such a diverse and talented team of writers, editors, and leaders for a second year at The SAIS Observer. My pledge to you is that The SAIS Observer will represent the highest standards of journalism. This year, our motto is simple – making the main thing the main thing – our student body. Thus, we have undertaken The Magellan Project to do just that – make our students the main thing by sharing their stories from all around the world, on our remodeled logo and brand new website that reflect our modern approach to student journalism. Another project we are undertaking is reaching beyond our campus walls, and seeking journalistic exchanges with peer universities, think tanks, and more in-depth stories featuring our world-class faculty. This year marks a year of considerable growth and remarkable change for The…

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SGA Election Transparency: An Unfortunate Example of Poor Leadership

in Opinion/SAIS Matters

By: ROSS MEDICO Bologna: The Student Government Association (SGA) Vice President was elected without a single vote. The SGA Vice President was elected without meeting the election’s basic requirements. The SGA Vice President was elected with zero student input from any of SAIS’s three campuses. That is not an election; that is a backroom deal. To be fair, not a single individual at SAIS Europe met the nomination requirements for Vice President, which included submitting a video and personal statement. However, the peremptory decision to fill the position anyway was nothing less than undemocratic. The process lacked transparency, and for all the campaigning on inclusivity, SGA leadership has clearly displayed the opposite. The SGA in Washington ultimately decided it would be more convenient to not seek out Vice Presidential candidates and to abandon the election altogether. They asked the two students running for the Bologna Representative position to decide between…

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Fish and Ships: A Near-Arctic Proposal

in Opinion

By: DANIEL BURKE NANJING: Amid drowning polar bears and tumbling glacial cliffs, China senses opportunity. On January 26th, China’s State Council Information Office released a white paper proposing new shipping routes in the rapidly thawing Arctic. Although China does not border the Arctic Ocean, the State Council has classified China as a “Near-Arctic State,” which, if recognized, would give it a say in regional affairs. China’s primary interests in the Arctic can be pared down to two things: fish and ships. Fish and fisheries were repeatedly mentioned as a key factor in China’s interest in the Arctic. Most directly, the State Council stated, “The natural conditions of the Arctic and their changes have a direct impact on China’s.…economic interests in agriculture, forestry, fishery, marine industry and other sectors.” Does China have a particular fondness for the plight of Norwegian fisherman? Unlikely. Things come into focus when we look at fishing…

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The World Has Changed and IR Schools Need to Adapt

in Opinion
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By: CAITLIN O’GRADY Bologna: The world felt like a different place in the latter years of the Obama administration. In May 2016, Rodrigo Duterte won the Philippines presidential election. Britain voted to leave the European Union in June. Terrorists attacked time after time in Brussels, Nice, Orlando, Berlin, and around the globe. Police clashed with the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S. throughout the summer. Populist leaders in the Netherlands, Austria, and France became viable candidates for president. In November 2016, Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election. The world as I knew it, or thought I knew, no longer existed. Societies seemed to be rejecting the status quo. In fact, many countries were intentionally reversing policies grounded in the postwar liberal consensus. I had applied to study American Foreign Policy in graduate school that year, but that knowledge did not seem to matter anymore. I struggled to understand…

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Continuing the Discussion: The HNC Cafeteria

in Opinion

NANJING – The Hopkins-Nanjing Center is home to an on-campus cafeteria, open three meals a day and serving a selection of Chinese and Western food options. It is cheap and it is convenient, but the food itself has students divided. Mitch is a fan of the cafeteria, supporting its efforts to feed the HNC community. Caroline is an advocate for change, with a belief that with a little love and funding, the HNC cafeteria could really thrive. FOR: BY MITCH BLATT I’ll tell you what I don’t intend to prove in this article. First, there’s no argument that the HNC cafeteria is the Da Dong Peking Duck Restaurant in Beijing. Hell, it’s not even Nanjing Da Pai Dang. Second, I certainly am not going to say that the cafeteria is open at the right hours. Someone should pick an open time for dinner and stick with it. The start time for breakfast…

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Wakanda in China

in Opinion

By: JACKYNICOLE EYOCKO NANJING — I arrived in China as the Spring Festival came to a close, excited and hopeful for the new year.  In February, China displayed a cringeworthy skit about Africa during their annual Lunar New Year Gala television program, in which a Chinese actress used blackface to portray an African woman who proclaimed her love of China, but I was optimistic about 2018, especially on the brink of “Black Panther” premiering in China. As I stood outside waiting for my Didi (the Chinese Uber) on a frigid day in February at the Shanghai Pudong airport, I gazed across the platform and encountered what I thought was a dream, a massive “黑豹” (“Black Panther”) promo poster. I was inspired, having never seen a black body displayed so freely in China before. Four weeks later, “Black Panther” entered the Chinese film market. As expected, the film crushed box office numbers,…

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Wheels of Chaos and Convenience: Dockless Bike-Share

in Opinion

By: KHUN NYAN MIN HTET Nanjing: HNC certificate student Huang Xu rides an Ofo dockless bike to the gym one kilometer away from his Nanjing University dorm on a hot summer day. He said dockless bikes provide a “swift” mode of transportation to the gym without a hassle. “Convenience”, “chaos”, “cheap” and “disorder” were some of the words used by HNC students to describe the dockless bike-share system in China. Despite the issue of haphazardly parked bikes in public areas, the convenience of dockless bikes seems to linger in the minds of HNCers when asked about the system. In recent months, Beijing-based dockless bike-share giants, Ofo and Mobike, rolled into D.C. to provide services to bike commuters in the Washington D.C. metro area.  The initial six-month pilot program allowed each of the bike-share companies to place 400 bikes in the city. While convenience and accessibility were cited as the appeal of…

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Collusion or Just Bad Business? Behind the Scenes of Deripaska and Manafort

in Opinion

By: JONIEL CHA Washington: Paul Manafort’s extensive foreign ties are a key part of the federal investigation into whether collusion occurred between Trump’s campaign and Kremlin operatives. Before the election, Manafort consulted for a Ukrainian political party linked to Russia and successfully delivered Viktor Yanukovych to power. From 2010 to 2014, he secretly funneled millions of dollars to Washington lobbying firms. Last September, the FBI discovered Manafort’s willingness to hold a private meeting with Russian political influencers in the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. By February, Manafort was indicted for conspiracy against the U.S., bank fraud, and tax crimes. Many of the allegations against Manafort stem from his relationship with one Russian oligarch in particular, aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska’s net worth is estimated by Forbes to be $6.4 billion; he owns multiple companies, including United Company Rusal and Basic Element and has a stake in V Novom…

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Hire, Fire & Fury

in Opinion

By: PHIL KAMPER Washington: Rex Tillerson, whose barbecue-laced baritone will surely be missed more than his actual work, has become the latest victim of the ongoing governmental game of musical chairs. As many people, including our own Dr. Eliot Cohen, have already written extensively about Rex Tillerson’s leadership of the State Department, and the reasons he was fired, I shall not pile on. Instead, I want to consider what Tillerson, and his departure, mean to us here at SAIS. Let’s start at the Foggy Bottom of things: the Trump administration has turned the State Department into Myspace circa 2011 – all the money, attention and popularity are gone. Tillerson has been responsible for a 31 percent budget cut, a plan to cut 10 percent of staff in both the foreign and civil service, and a hiring freeze. Many key positions have been left unfilled, from the Ambassador to South Korea…

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Trumpism at SAIS – A Roundtable Discussion

in News/Opinion

Welcome to The SAIS Observer Editorial Chat. The transcript below has been lightly edited. Caroline (Caroline Yarber, Deputy Editor-in-chief): Welcome team and readers to our first coffee chat of the year. We are sitting down to chat from across SAIS’ three campuses to discuss issues that matter to all SAISers. Today, the topic will be how President Trump’s first year in office has affected our experiences as SAIS students. Over the past century, the U.S. has played a defining role in the international order, and changes in the U.S. have had the potential to affect the entire global community. The question we will be starting with is: how has the controversial Trump presidency affected academic dialogue at our internationally-focused campuses? T.J. (T.J. Sjostrom, Editor-in-chief): Woof… awesome question. So, I think it has had at least an intangible effect WRT attitudes and perceptions of the American role going forward. Issy (Issy…

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