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By Michael Miner, GPS Issue Analyst

With the signing of the strategic arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia, both nation-states have agreed to reduce the size of their nuclear arsenal to a mutually agreed upon figure. It would limit the cap of warheads to 1,550 and also put stipulations on the number and types of delivery vehicles. The goal remains the same as the initial START treaty between the US and the Soviet Union: reduce the number of nuclear warheads in existence in the interest of global nuclear security. This represents the most complex and significant arms control agreement in the history of the world and an area where both Russia and the United States have a mutual interest.

There remains a significant hurdle for the United States if they are to actively pursue this course of action. President Obama did sign the treaty and indicate the United States willingness to adopt these security measures. Yet for any international treaty of this stature the United States Senate must first ratify the language if the nation is to formally adopt this stance into security policy and defense planning.

The Foreign Relations committee is tasked with this responsibility. Chairman Senator John Kerry made a significant concession in a contentious year by withholding a Senate wide vote until after the election, but now there are concerns the treaty may not have enough votes for ratification despite its view by the President as a security imperative. It has the support of significant Republicans including the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee Senator Richard Lugar and wide backing outside the Senate. Former secretaries of state James Baker, Henry Kissinger, and Madeleine Albright have voiced support. Former defense secretaries William Cohen and William Perry are on board as well as former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and former Senator Sam Nunn.

The opposition? Senator Jon Kyl and other Republicans have suggested concerns about the ability for the United States to modernize a nuclear arsenal for twenty-first century conflicts. While there may be some legitimacy in these points depending on the context of the argument, it would not appear this treaty would in any way shape or form hamper US ability to reduce or replace aging warheads within outlined parameters. A combination of district interests and political gamesmanship are driving these efforts as failing to ratify this treaty would be a huge embarrassment to the President and potentially score cheap political points in the run up to 2012.

Unfortunately what those in opposition fail to realize is that it would be a huge embarrassment to the nation. Hampering future international negotiations for both Democratic and Republican administrations would be a gross disservice. Playing politics with national security is not in the best interest of the nation nor our security partners worldwide. It sets a poor example in a world yearning for an America returned to its place as the shining city upon the hill.

There is a rare chance to demonstrate to the world the United States is committed to reducing the number of nuclear warheads and increasing global security for all. An opportunity like this comes along once a decade, and leadership must secure ratification on such an important issue. Statesmanship is at a crossroads, and if we cannot take the avenue of pragmatic consensus there will be will be precarious fallout in a dramatically changing security environment.

By James Craggs
James is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about James below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Students and young people have the best grasp on a new weapon for conquering HIV and AIDS: social networking such as Facebook and Twitter.  Young people are able to share content, blog, tweet and post information fast.  But how are students and young people important in international health affairs and do they influence decisions? 

Well, in circumstances which affect either an individual or a group of people, knowledge is power.  Spreading information online allows information to get around, and let’s face it; young people need to know the risks and passing on what they know.  Young people are, usually, the most sexually active in society, so it’s important for them to know how to protect themselves and others.

It’s not just about how it affects people as individuals, but how it affects other people and how young people can help defeat HIV and AIDS, socially and physically.  The influence of networking is so big today, that when young people can get together behind an issue, people listen.  Demonstrations get organised, groups set up and decisions changed from the influence of networking groups.  The role of online tools and communication to object and demonstrations against actions is becoming more important, as people become more complex in their networking connections.  It’s also a way of spreading information to people who don’t (or can’t) get online, through word of mouth and the media.      

So, with young people keeping in touch with each other, the possibilities are endless.  With such a large voice, online and in the real world, it is a duty of everyone to say something, to act or just to listen, but the importance of young people can’t be underestimated.

My name is James Craggs I’m a final year student at The University of Aberdeen in the UK reading for my Masters in Politics and International Relations.  I also work within the National Health Service within the emergency services.  I volunteer in projects for a local and regional public health charity associated with HIV/AIDS and sexual health issues who have a national presence here in the UK.  In my spare time I enjoy mountain climbing, gym, socialising with friends and travelling as much as possible!

By Rachel Stanley
Rachel is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Rachel below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Young people need a presence in the realm of U.S. foreign assistance. They need to be seen, and their concerns should be heard. As a university student, my view of young “movers and shakers” comes from a university setting. U.S. foreign aid covers a wide variety of topics, too many for any size student movement to cover passionately. Recently, in my own experience, there has been a considerable outpouring of student energy for certain causes, particularly Haiti. It is fascinating which disasters that energy gets extended to or not. For example, at my own university, news of Haiti’s earthquake created a huge fundraising effort, one that closely mirrored the amount of money that the U.S. government itself sent to Haiti. But what about student efforts for the victims of the Pakistani and Chinese floods? Not so much. U.S. foreign aid is a device all its own, but I think that, in many ways, student movements and student responses to world events are a reflection of the way that our older American counterparts are feeling. It is too early to tell how much of USAID’s money will go towards Pakistani or Chinese flood relief, but based on the U.S.AID figures for the 2010 fiscal year, more American money was donated to Haiti than to Sudan, Iraq, Uganda, and Colombia ( . Haiti has taken the crown. I think that student initiatives can act as a mirror of official U.S. foreign assistance policy, but students also have the tremendous power of being able to get the ball rolling in terms of how Americans prioritize aid. As Generation Y comes of age and begins to enter the work force and adulthood, we have such power and responsibility. We can affect U.S. aid. We can get money directed where we want. It’s possible.

Rachel Stanley is an undergrad at Elon University in North Carolina. Working towards a B.A. in international studies, she is interested in all things Africa, but also North-South issues and human rights in general.

By Simone Oyekan
Simone is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Simone below or take a look at the Student Issue Analysts.

Every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria.
Yet, malaria is a treatable disease.
How do I know?
I’ve had it before.

I was 9 years old. If not for my families’ access to drugs, I may have been 1 of one million children that die each year.

Malaria is caused by an anopheles mosquito bite. The parasite that is transmitted by these mosquitoes multiplies in the liver and infects red blood cells. Symptoms can include a fever, vomiting, weakness and a headache. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria.

It’s easy to see why developed countries have a stake in international development. The more efficient countries such as Nigeria are, the more oil can be obtained. However, when the issue turns to malaria, it’s hard to explain exactly why we should care about malaria. The truth is that malaria can also affect developed economies. It has the potential to lower GDP, increase death mortality rates, lower the workforce and increase government spending in poorer countries. As the world becomes more globalized, one country’s problems will affect the rest of the international community.

Sometimes I believe people see malaria as something unsolvable and begin to accept it. For instance, while I was in Uganda, I contracted a stomach virus. When I told people that I was sick, the first thing people asked was if I had malaria. I had no symptoms whatsoever, but people (even the doctor in the hospital) jumped to the conclusion that I had to have it. For the record, I didn’t.

From the 1920’s to 1940’s, malaria existed in the American south. The Center for Disease Control and Read the rest of this entry »

By Brandon Fischer
Brandon is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Brandon below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

In the turbulent state of affairs along the intersection of Muslim and American culture, the question often arises as to what exactly can be done to allow for a certain progress which will counter the trend of regression which has taken hold of relations in recent years. Evidence is ever the more present, typified today by controversy which has surrounded Park51, a Muslim community and worship center to be erected within walking distance from Ground Zero. Yet, there must be a force strong enough to withstand the hostile rhetoric of antagonists, and that force lies within the hands and minds of Muslim-American and Muslim-sensitive youth of our country.

Progress towards this end, though some may think it to be out of reach, is made wholly possible when considering the capacity of an organized assemblage of well-informed and robust voices. Social media outlets and cross-cultural community organizing may work to build upon and enhance interreligious dialogues of the past, propelling them into the secular realm. The Straight Path Initiative, a youth program brought forth by the Muslim American Society, serves as a model for this through their lessons in civic engagement, social networking and advocacy. The Straight Path Initiative and similar associations have already penetrated campuses nationwide, creating a new Muslim-American consciousness in their classrooms and communities.

In disregarding religious demagoguery and increasing cultural sensitivities, young advocates, Muslim and non-Muslim, may build a visible constituency of change. The knowledge and resources are widely available, waiting to be capitalized upon and to be used as tools of advancement. Constructing a new breed of ecumenical dialogue and activism by young people, if concerted and enduring, may just be enough to dull a tension which has gotten out of hand. Keep in mind, readers, the future of US-Muslim relations has yet to be written.

Brandon Fischer is currently working towards his Masters in International Affairs at the New School in New York City. He received his BA in International Relations and Spanish from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX. His regional interest lies in the Middle East where he intends to explore the intersection of development and institutional accountability vis-à-vis macroeconomic efficiencies in aid flows. Brandon feels strongly that the youth of our day may serve as significant actors in global affairs through community activism and social media which enable political mobility.

By Michael Miner
Michael is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Michael below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Nuclear non-proliferation is an issue spanning generations. From policy makers of the Cold War on through deciders in the new millennium, the nuclear dilemma has touched every generation since the dawn of the Atomic Age. Consequentially the next generation of Americans will play a defining role in twenty-first century nuclear policy.

How and why states seek nuclear capabilities or to prevent proliferation are long-term policy conundrums. Status quo nation-states align along similar trajectories in the interest of reduction, while other states seek to redefine their own standing in the world by achieving recognized (or unrecognized) nuclear status. Nuclear proliferation constructs the modern political and security structure of all great power nation-states and plays a strong role in the security development of critical middling powers. Scientists and nonstate actors play supporting and destabilizing roles between these two extremes, simultaneously representing potential threats to society and unexplored avenues of cooperation toward reducing the spread of fissile material.

Nuclear expansion or reduction defines the future as its primary operating environment impacting current and future generations. Citizen education and comprehension can play a vital role shaping civil societies cognizant of realities at play. A better-versed population will accurately identify real and unrealistic dangers inherent in nuclear proliferation and encourage policies seeking to curb actual threats to humanity. Addressing these threats will lead to a more stable political, social, and economic environment for all nation-states and allow for mankind to solve one of the greatest manmade problems that continues to cast a dark shadow on humanity.

Michael Miner is our resident analyst covering nuclear weapons and associated research areas including security studies, globalization, and political stability in the Persian Gulf. Mr. Miner previously worked for an international communications firm based in Washington DC and is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Chatham House, and the Royal United Services Institute. He is pursuing a master’s degree at Dartmouth College and is a visiting graduate scholar at Harvard University. Outside of the academy he can be found training under the United States Olympic Judo Team while desperately trying to brew the perfect cup of coffee.

By April Stewart
April is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about April below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Happiness is the name of a young girl I met in Usa River, Tanzania. She is four years old and loves orange Fanta and dancing. She and more than 30 of her friends live in an orphanage run by the Tanzania Millennium Hand Foundation. All of these children have been infected or affected by HIV, including Happiness. Happiness tested positive for HIV more than a year ago, which she contracted from her mother, who passed away from complications associated with AIDS.

Youth around the world are disproportionately infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. The growing number of youth who are infected by this virus reiterates a need for a new perspective on this global issue. Youth posses the creativity and drive to inform their peers about HIV and lower the infection rate. Organizations around the world have targeted youth in safe sex campaigns and HIV/AIDS education, yet because of the diversity of cultures, religion, and location, programs that may work to reduce infection rates in one region of the world are ineffective in others. Youth’s voices should be incorporated into these organizations to provide tailored methods of dealing with HIV/AIDS in their specific region.This could be done through youth teaching seminars, where young adults become trained to teach their peers. This could be complimented with a youth summit in which those that educate their peers around the world could exchange creative teaching strategies.

Organizations, such as the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA), work to incorporate youth in policy and programming decisions, empowering young people in a arena which has greatly affected the. With more organizations committed to giving youth a voice, children like Happiness will be represented in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

My name is April. I am a junior at Northwestern University where I study Social Policy. Getting involved in the fight against HIV has become a passion of mine since high school, when I volunteered for the Minnesota AIDS Project. Since then I have worked in Tanzania, Washington DC, Chicago and New York learning and teaching about this important issue.

By Hannah Nemer
Hannah is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Hannah below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Walking through suburbia covered in a hijab, I felt the deafening silence of discomfort follow me. For the first time, I, a Jewish teen, felt a small bit of the burden of being Muslim in America.
This social experiment, designed to identify post-9/11 stereotypes of Islam, was eye opening, revealing all too many misconceptions. These perceptions only intensify as time passes, as demonstrated by the upset over the “ground-zero mosque.”
Somewhere along the way, America’s fear began to usurp the power of the First Amendment. Now, as youth, it is our obligation to stop the fear mongering in order to embrace our differences, making way for religious pluralism.
The forums for this are plentiful.
Students have a unique opportunity; rarely will we be thrown into an environment as socially and culturally diverse as our schools, nor with a group of peers as genuinely enthused about identifying problems and seeking solutions. Here, conversations are born.
The Interfaith Youth Core, a global dialogue building interfaith coalitions, has grown among these campus communities. More than a forum for discussion, the global nature of this program forges new partnerships, bridging cultural divides.
Students do not hold political power because we are future leaders, but because we are leaders. In 2006, the youth 9/11 Plus 5: A Hope Not Hate Summit proclaimed that message loud and clear. Joining forces, over 400 youth leaders took a stand for religious pluralism, calling attention to legitimate driving forces of terrorism, rather than explaining it away as “Islamic Fundamentalism.”
Conversations must commence, and tough questions must be asked. Something as simple as complimenting a Muslim woman on the color of her hijab breaks down long built barriers of silence. And that gateway conversation is one we all can begin.

I am Hannah Nemer, a freshman at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Interested in advocacy through public policy and film, I am eager to partner with Americans for Informed Democracy. Despite my love of politics, I find myself concerned over the political process which seems to breed both xenophobia and hate; but, I see hope in informed youth who speak out against both social and political injustices.

By Elizabeth Con
Elizabeth is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Elizabeth below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Doesn’t everyone support human rights?  Sure they do.  But does the average person actually do anything to promote and protect our rights?  Not really.  And you especially wouldn’t think that a young person, a person possibly still in their teens, would actually care about improving human rights around the world.  We’re just too busy pulling all-nighters in the library or spending our life savings on Bonnaroo tickets and the road trip it will take to get there.  But I beg to differ.  Young people actually play a pivotal role in the human rights movement today for many reasons.  The key word here is young, which means they’re energetic, passionate, excited, and creative.  They’re not afraid to make mistakes and to explore the world in which we live.  Historically, young people have been in the forefront of revolution and change.  Consider the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement.  Young people came together to protest and make their voices heard.  They worked together to ask for change in our world and to make it a little better for the people who came after them.  I know a woman who sent her first allowance (at 10 years old, I might add) to Amnesty International.  That’s pretty impressive.  And it just proves that young people actually do care about things other than what celebrities are wearing these days.  Although it may sound so cliché, young people really are the leaders of tomorrow.  They are the ones who will be educating your children, working for the UN, and running for election.  They have the power to call for a change to the way we look at human rights today.  So don’t underestimate the power of young people and their influence on human rights just yet.

Elizabeth Con is a junior at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina.  She is double majoring in Political Science and International Studies (concentration in Latin America and the Caribbean) and double minoring in Spanish and Film Studies.  Elizabeth has been the treasurer of CofC´s campus chapter of AID for the past two years and has enjoyed working with other AID members in spreading awareness of global issues on campus.  In the future, Elizabeth hopes to join the Peace Corps before going to graduate school to study International Relations.

 By José Reymondez
José is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about José below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Climate change is everyone’s problem. Natural disasters or subtle shifts in season can ruin lives. Even for those whose lives aren’t ruined, the domino effect of globalization can bring harm into their lives too. Young people should care more; they have the most chance of seeing its harmful effects. Of course some still distance themselves from the issue. Apathy and denial are easy.
The student is a young person with an advantage. They’re rational adults who don’t have to work yet. They can educate themselves about and then dedicate their time to climate change where perhaps others their age don’t understand, have time or care. Students have the time and knowledge to transcend self-interest and find the nobility in working on a cause that the randomness of life may not have brought in to their personal lives.
People in power can deny climate change, be wrong and then get away with it because they will be dead before a rise in sea level or slew of hurricanes razes their vacation homes. Students need to pressure their governments. Climate change needs to be dealt with multilaterally. States, especially the US, have the most leverage to push carbon emissions standards or encourage alternate energy sources. If the US feels the will of their youth from within, that an active voting block wants regulation, then they will be more willing to lobby the rest of the world.
At more of a grassroots level, young people can normalize energy-saving behavior in to their culture. Shutting off lights when they’re not being used can be made as taboo as not washing one’s hands was made when modern sanitation was introduced.
Most of all students can tell the truth, join the debate and tell people climate change is real, don’t let the deniers win.

José Reymóndez is a candidate for, an M.A. candidate for a degree in International Affairs with a concentration in development. He is fascinated by the political economic issues surrounding and hopefully solutions to climate change. He often wonders why something as simple as maintaining the one thing every living thing needs, the earth and its environment, somehow doesn’t seem to be going as well as it could. He is a native New Yorker and pack leader of two adopted dogs, one black and one brown.


August 2020

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