Why Boko Haram is as Dangerous as ISIS

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The Islamic State is what makes the headlines, but Boko Haram is no less of a threat to peace. The unfortunate truth is that the already neglected population within Nigeria and its surrounding nations are victims of political circumstances. The government has a history of neglecting its population and continually is listed as one of the most corrupt in the world. In the most recent 2014 polling, it was placed in the 16th percentile. Much of this can be attributed to the country’s vast oil wealth. More than likely, the country falls under the category of corrupt oil regimes, similar to many of the Gulf Nations such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Nonetheless, the lack of attention given by the government to the people creates an environment in which organizations may emerge as “protectors of the people”. Historically, this can be seen through the rise of the Bolsheviks under Lenin against the corrupt regime of Tsar Nicholas II. More recently, this can be seen in the rise and support of Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has been able to transition into the dominant political party in the country. Therefore, in learning from the past, this organization may very well evolve to become a threat throughout much more of Africa and the world.

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Boko Haram and the Islamic State are both share in the same hypocrisy. Both have declared goals of establishing caliphates. When watching Fox or CNN, this theme continuously is brought up and is made to be the main objective for both groups. The truth, however, may be that these organizations exist in order to rebel against the powers that have created a system that oppresses their populations. Another possible explanation is that they are seeking to redraw the largely unrepresentative boundaries that were drawn by colonial powers. The reason for questioning the stated intentions of expanding the influence of Islam is that both Boko Haram and ISIS have deliberately fought against largely Islamic governments. When examined, this is illogical, which points to other motives. In conclusion,  critical examination of the circumstances surrounding Boko Haram’s presence reveals they are more similar to the more well known Islamic State than not. Their continued presence reveals that the existing systems cannot continue to operate on the same fashion and significant change is necessary.

Why the Pope is Overstepping his Boundaries

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The popularity of Pope Francis is well-deserved as he has finally brought the Catholic Christian faith out of the middle ages. His concern for the well-being of the poor indicates his use of papal authority to positively affect the world. Similarly, his belief that the gay community should not suffer abuses reveals that he would rather promote compassion as opposed to judgement. These, among many other actions taken by the Bishop of Rome, have made him a celebrity of sorts in the political and religious worlds. Unfortunately, the Pope is using his status to venture into the political realm. While this is not uncommon of individuals that have held his position, or other religious leaders, lines must be drawn.

The issue with the Pope’s position in society arises when he forsakes his obligations in order to advance a political agenda. The first example of this is the Pope’s acceptance of John Boehner’s invitation to address Congress in the United States. Given his position in society, addressing a government that has been unresponsive to its population due to political clashes (bipartisan politics in this case) is not an ideal setting for a major religious leader. Rather, it might be more fitting to spend his time in the United States in a manner that suits his position, such as detainees being held unfairly in Guantanamo Bay. Alternatively, the Pope has declined to meet with the Dalai Lama. The justification for this development is that it might hurt efforts to normalize relations with China. When the government of South Africa behaved similarly, Archbishop Desmond Tutu promptly condemned them. Given the position of the Pope as a beacon of morality and hope for the oppressed and marginalized, this action is both shocking and enlightening. It is enlightening as it reveals that, unfortunately, the importance of politics for an institution such as the Catholic Church may cause it to stray from its fundamental mission.

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GUANTANAMO BAY AND THE TORTURE REPORT

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
-Benjamin Franklin
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These days, the name Guantanamo Bay appears in the news from time to time. Typically, the focus is on the false promises granted by the Obama Administration or the human rights abuses that are being committed every minute of every day. The prison is located on the island of Cuba, which is ironic given the United States’ shaky relations with the nation. It was established as a byproduct of the War on Terror in 2002. Given the fear instilled in the nation at the time by the media and the government, the American public was willing to look the other way. Gradually, society became indifferent to the reality of unlawful imprisonment for individual’s deemed extraordinarily dangerous. Refer back to the quote stated at the beginning of the piece. Given the origin of the quote, it would be difficult to argue against the fact that the actions of the American public violate the original beliefs on which the nation was created. This part of American history is most similar to the time period where Japanese internment camps were erected for similar reasons.

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Flash forward around ten years and the CIA is made to release a torture report that details there actions against individuals held illegally, actions which most likely continue to take place today. While many of the horrific actions carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency are known, such as force-feeding and water-boarding, the report reveals that the actions were far more severe than the agency made them out to be. Furthermore, the report reveals that the CIA acted independently of government authorization and no part of the government should have that much power. When confronted on the issue, former vice-president Dick Cheney answered it was “Full of Crap“. Given that there are individuals who would argue with the findings of a non-biased government investigation, it becomes evident that many politicians are continuing to work to mislead the American public. Referring back to the Benjamin Franklin’s timeless warning, there is truly a problem that must be faced and it must begin with a change in the attitude of the United States citizens.

The Iraq War and Should We Really Go Back?

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a complete disaster period.

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The reasons for making such an assertion can be found on all sides of the equation. In regards to Americans, 4,488 servicemen were killed directly and 32,223 troops were injured. In addition, 1.7 trillion dollars have been spent by the U.S. Treasury Department on this invasion until 2013, which could have been spent improving American Infrastructure. The numbers are frustrating when examined carefully as one can further dig into how such a large amount of taxpayer’s money that was wasted. Perhaps the most ridiculous factor regarding the war is the conclusion and findings in regards to the purpose of the mission. After all the money and suffering of the war, it turned out that their were indeed no weapons of mass destruction found. Basically, the claims based on supposed intelligence that validated the invasion ended up being false and nothing more than speculation.

It is also necessary to examine the war from the other angles, mainly that of the invaded peoples. The removal of Saddam Hussein was a plus for much of the population as he was guilty of committing significant atrocities and debatably genocide against some of Iraq’s minorities. What came after, however, was even more devastating. It is important to note the country was still recovering from the devastating Iran-Iraq War in the 80’s and the invasion of Kuwait. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that another war only halted any rebuilding of the infrastructure that was taking place. Other important issues include the continued corruption of the government and sectarian violence. Fast forward to today and we have a new player in the game, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS. This is an organization characterized by a hate for Western Influence and brutality towards its enemies that is unrivaled in the 21st century.

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That brings us to the question of whether or not the United States should return to Iraq in order to deal with the problem of ISIS. While the nation is undoubtedly somewhat responsible for the creation and growth of this organization, is it worth it? ISIS has grown so rapidly as a result of strong anti-West sentiment that stems from colonialism and an interventionist attitude. If the United States were to adopt an isolationist policy, if only to deal with its domestic issues such as the economy, it may be in their interest. This is a difficult topic of discussion, but it must be confronted in order to deal with rationally and responsibly.

What do you think? Feel free to comment your opinions.

A Rational Examination of the Keystone Pipeline

The conflict between fossil fuels and climate policy.

Climate Change Exists. Period.

This is a fact that is still to be universally accepted, with even some debate from academics and professionals in the field. In confirming this environmental phenomenon, the first problem with the Keystone Pipeline becomes evident. This is that in erecting a pipeline, the American nation (which is already the leading contributor to climate change on the planet) is growing increasingly dependent on fossil fuels. This is due to the fact that as the nation increases its ability to readily provide a supply of less expensive fossil fuels, the urgency to seek out alternative forms of energy will lessen dramatically. It is as the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. In reality, however, to call the significant use of oil for energy a problem would indeed be an understatement. Therefore, the first issue with the pipeline is the simple yet large issue of the negative environmental impact it will have.

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The second issue is what has surprisingly matched the environmental issue in relevance during this debate, which is job creation. TransCanada, which seeks to build the pipeline, estimates around 570,000 jobs may be created. The American Petroleum Institute claims up to 500,000 jobs can be created.The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports the pipeline and put the number at around 250,000. Discussing these estimates is important as the state of the economy is not what it once was (and it is not getting better, despite what is being said on the news) and the prospect of creating these jobs will increase support for the pipeline. The only estimate that truly matters, that which was conducted by the Obama Administration, discovered that between 50 to 100 permanent jobs would be created. That’s not too bad. The difference is only by 569,900 jobs. On a serious note, however, a rational examination of the circumstances surrounding the creation of this pipeline will yield only one conclusion. THIS IS A BAD IDEA.

First Post – Where to Get Some Real Information

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The current state of news reporting is a major disappointment, to say the least. Whether watching CNN or Fox News, a clear bias can be seen. It becomes difficult, therefore, to determine where an appropriate outlet for information can be found. As a student of politics and an average joe who happens to be interested in knowing what is happening around the world, I have discovered that there is hope. First and foremost, Al Jazeera is probably as good as it gets when it comes to the major news outlets. This is a fairly unbiased source that reports on a vast expanse of issues. In second place, I would choose the New York Times. Newspapers are outdated, but many of them are certainly more reliable than television networks. The New York Times draws from many different writers and opinions, which creates a balance that is healthy for fostering conversation. The last outlet I would point to is the guardian. This is source that truly favors fair and impartial reporting. Similar to some of its counterparts, its includes some pop culture in its news, but it manages to put significant issues first. Some honorable mentions go to the little guys such as satirical news outlets such as the Daily Show and the BBC, which is another large yet fairly reliable source. These are the sources I trust as an academic and informed individual and therefore, I hope that these are useful sources for you, also.