January 23, 2011
“For China, Relief After a Successful Trip”—Ian Johnson, New York Times

President Hu Jintao’s recent visit to the United States marked a change in relations between the two countries and a vast improvement over Jintao’s previous visits at Washington. Upon arrival to the U.S., the Chinese president received a ceremonial welcome, including a 21-gun salute and gala dinner. These procedures helped to restore the respect which China wished to receive as one of the most powerful countries in the world. Jintao also visited a Chinese company in Chicago and a Confucius Institute in an effort to emphasize both China’s economic and cultural presence overseas.

While these two primary goals for China were fulfilled during this trip, the United States did not completely accomplish its objectives for the meeting: to discuss relations with North Korea, trading issues, and human rights. This last one was particularly avoided by Jintao, who gave an elusive answer when asked about the issue by American media. This reflected China’s desire to remain untangled in arguments over human rights and Jintao’s non-confrontational political style.

However, the visit clearly meant a lot to China, whose media (particularly the Communist Party’s newspaper, the People’s Daily) held off publishing until late Thursday morning. The meeting marked a step in the right direction for American-Chinese relations.

From Huntington’s position, this article highlighted the importance of cultural differences between two different nations. For China, one of the visit’s primary purposes was to ensure that Chinese culture is extending its influence beyond the growing nation’s borders. This challenges Huntington’s argument as it indicates that different cultures can intermix within the same society, beyond fault lines, and that China’s goal is in fact to ensure that this happens.

At the same time, when examined from the perspective of the human rights issue, Huntington’s argument holds. There remains a fault line between the American and Chinese perspectives on human rights, to the extent that the two countries have not reached the point where they can openly discuss the problem. However, I disagree with Huntington on the point that these viewpoints will not change because of cultural differences—as China continues to modernize, I foresee that the country will come to face the issue in a more accepting light. Wednesday’s meeting is hopefully the first step of many that will help China and the U.S. to find more agreements with each other and more common goals.






"Propping Up a Drug Lord, Then Arresting Him”—James Risen, New York Times Excellent article and analysis. This has been a common theme in our global history. During the Cold War, Manuel Noriega - a brutal, though anti-communist Nicaraguan dictator and ally of the U.S. - was helping to ship tons of cocaine into the U.S. Now, instead of anti-communist allies, they are anti-terrorists, and it's heroin. And, according to the leaked documents from Wikileaks, President Karzai may be involved. Funny how history repeats itself.

Risen addresses the story of drug lord Hajji Juma Khan and his relations to the United States and the CIA. In 2008 he was arrested and faced charges of narco-terrorism—a kind of terrorism enacted to divert any attention from drug trafficking. He was said to be a strong supporter of the Taliban, but what was not previously mentioned as clearly (or at all) was the man’s history as an informer for the CIA and DEA, a job that presented to him a sizeable amount of money. In 2006 his meetings in New York City with these two agencies were videotaped, revealing the information he gave them and his request to obtain “protected status as an American asset”.

Mr. Khan is not the only drug dealer whom has been entrusted to give leads to American intelligence agencies. But spokesmen for the two agencies Khan met with denied discussing his relation to their agencies, and his lawyer denied entirely his client’s ever working with the CIA or his support of the Taliban.

In the early years of the War on Terror, the United States largely ignored the drug wars that were raging in Afghanistan, enabling men like Mr. Khan to rise to power. It has not been until the past few years that America has begun to fully recognize the connections between terrorism and drug trafficking—a realization that resulted in part in the recent law passed against narco-terrorism. But America’s purposeful ignorance in regard to Khan’s involvement with the Taliban and in drug trafficking also perpetuated his success. It was not until two years after his first meeting with the CIA and DEA that Khan was arrested at what was supposed to be another gathering with these agencies.

This article demonstrates both an individual and systemic cause. Because it involves the actions of a single individual and the information he shared with American intelligence, Risen’s piece is an example of an individual, proximate cause. The United States’ involvement with this person, however, is a systemic cause because it involves more than one nation. The systemic aspect of this cause could also be regarded as a remote cause because it addresses an evolving issue—narco-terrorism—which has taken place over a period of time greater than a single, catalytic event.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/world/asia/12drugs.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=world





“Climate Groups Retool Argument for Global Warming”—Christopher Joyce, NPR

This particular article discusses the mounting disbelief that the public holds about the very real and pressing issue of global warming. In the recent past, the number of Americans who consider climate change to be a legitimate concern has dropped, and the scientific community is beginning to feel the effects of this change. Three years ago, after Al Gore published a book and released his documentary An Inconvenient Truth, the scientific community thought that the scientific battle over global warming was finally won—that they had convinced the public that this phenomenon indeed exists. But they were wrong, and it has taken a few years to witness the results of their failure to fully convince the public.

Several reasons have affected the public’s reception of climate change. One deals with the politics of the issue. Republicans in general are less-inclined to believe in global warming whereas liberals are more accepting of the issue as a result of the opposing beliefs of the parties themselves. The public is also less inclined to listen to environmentalists since much of the information that these scientists release to the public focuses on the devastating consequences of our treatment of the environment. In a time when the economy is doing poorly and people are searching for some form of release from monetary struggles, they are more inclined to listen to solutions to issues rather than the status of the problems themselves.

This particular article connects to the various topics of Chapter One in several ways. A large section of the public has used schematic reasoning to make various assumptions about global warming, in particular based on the types of people who believe in it and are a part of the green movement. Many environmentally-friendly people are quite liberal in their beliefs, causing conservatives to be less willing to accept global warming as truth. Cognitive dissonance also plays a role in the public’s unwillingness to join the green movement. As a result of the rather negative images and information that has been made available to the public by environmentalists, people are reluctant to acknowledge such dire realities. The possibilities presented by the effects of global warming rattle their psyche, and thus cause a reaction of denial.
The impending reality of global warming has the potential to act as an integrative trend, uniting people from across the United States and around the world to fight for a new world in which our methods of living are sustainable. But thus far it has acted as a disintegrative trend, further emphasizing the boundaries between political parties and those who are willing or unwilling to accept this stark reality.

http://www.npr.org/2010/12/05/131780926/climate-groups-retool-argument-for-global-warming&sc=nl&cc=nh-20101205i

This is a great example, Elizabeth, and you relate it to chapter 1 well. I especially like this line: "The possibilities presented by the effects of global warming rattle their psyche, and thus cause a reaction of denial." It's too bad that these people play politics with such an important issue. I have always felt that we spend too much time talking about our ideological differences in order to gain political power. Now they are exploiting these differences instead of working to find a practical way out of the mess we've created. Well done.

December 12, 2010, Article II