Author: Bryan Lee

Bryan is a columnist focusing on public policy, politics, international development, and international affairs.

How to Prevent Another DAPL

For the last few months, the Dakota Access Pipeline has captured the nation’s attention. After Energy Transfer Partners started construction on a pipeline near the Standing Rock Reservation, local Native American tribes protested the pipeline on the grounds that it could pollute their water supplies. Word of the protests spread and thousands of protesters flocked to Standing Rock. After months of confrontations between protesters and militarized police, the Army Corps of Engineers paused the project pending an environmental impact assessment.

The Native American tribes and environmentalists hailed this development as a victory, albeit a temporary one. Donald Trump, who will soon be taking office, has vowed to complete the DAPL and has signaled a willingness to carry out this campaign promise by filling his administration with oil executives and people who have invested heavily in the project. As a result, anti-DAPL protesters are gearing up for a long protest season.

What Can We Expect to See After the Brexit?

On 23 June 2016, the United Kingdom held a referendum on whether the nation should leave the European Union. This historic vote resulted in an unexpected victory for the Leave side, giving the government a mandate to start negotiations to leave the EU. Immediately following this news, financial markets and the Pound Sterling plummeted causing financial chaos around the globe. This reaction demonstrates that the international community is fearful about the impacts of a Brexit. As a result, it is worth exploring the impacts that it is likely to have.

The campaign season leading up to Brexit referendum was arduous and marred by deliberate misinformation, xenophobia, and nativism. After this campaign, the referendum resulted in an unexpected victory for the Leave side, which won 52% of the vote. However, this referendum, which was not legally binding, does not automatically withdraw the UK from the European Union. In order to withdraw, the UK will need a majority vote in Parliament to repeal the web of legislation that allowed the UK to accede to the EU. In addition, the UK will need to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to formally withdraw from the EU. Once Article 50 is invoked the UK will have two years to negotiate the terms of its departure.

Protectionism Is Not the Answer

Since Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency, he has ridden a wave of right-wing populism to become the Republican presidential nominee. Throughout this entire process, he has adopted a protectionist, anti-immigration, and nativist political platform. While Trump’s success in politics has shocked the American public, his rise is only part of a global trend towards protectionism as political parties like UKIP in the UK, the National Front in France, and AfD in Germany have steadily gained in the polls. All of these protectionist political parties claim that their policies will “make their country great again.” However, there is no economic basis to these claims and implementing these protectionist policies will cause severe damage to the global economy.

Since the end of World War II, the world has rapidly become more globalized and connected. However, since the 2008 Financial Crisis, the world has experienced a period of unprecedented economic stagnation, leaving hundreds of millions of people impoverished and facing a bleak future. Unfortunately, this has fostered political discontent and extremism throughout the world. Like previous times of economic hardship, this has encouraged the rise of nationalistic, right-wing political forces that have rejected globalization. The rise of the Brexit movement in the UK and Euroskeptic political parties reflect this trend.

Was EgyptAir Flight MS804 Brought Down by a Terrorist Attack?

What brought down EgyptAir Flight MS804?

In the early hours of 19 May 2016, EgyptAir Flight MS804 disappeared from radar. This disappearance prompted a search and rescue operation by numerous navies and air forces to search for the missing plane. This search eventually found wreckage from the plane and the body parts of its passengers. The downing of this flight has sparked an investigation into its cause. Naturally, many people, including presidential candidates, suspect that the plane was downed by a terrorist attack. However, since the facts surrounding the downing of the plane are unclear, this claim is probably premature. As a result, the evidence for and against this theory should be analyzed.

Since the investigation is ongoing, the facts of the downing of the plane are fuzzy and subject to change. However, at the time of writing, it is believed that EgyptAir Flight MS804 was flying at 37,000 feet. It then made a 90-degree turn to the left, followed by a 360-degree turn as it descended rapidly. It then disappeared from radar at an altitude of 10,000 feet. It is also believed that the smoke was detected in the lavatory and avionics equipment two minutes before the plane disappeared from radar. Many people who have analyzed these facts have argued that it is consistent with a terrorist attack. They would rightfully argue that the smoke is suspicious and consistent with a quick-burning fire or explosion. Alternatively, the erratic flight path of the plane could be consistent with a struggle in the cockpit between the pilots and a possible hijacker. Both of these are consistent with a terrorist attack.

Why Is North Korea Arming the Democratic Republic of Congo?

The reason behind North Korea’s foray into central Africa

Since gaining independence from Belgium, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been chronically unstable and has been rocked by numerous coups and civil wars. DRC has always been a strategic country and as a result foreign powers have backed various actors throughout the years. However, according to a recent report, North Korea has joined the fray and provided the DRC government with arms and training for their troops. This, however, is illegal as the UN Security Council has placed an arms embargo that bans the export and import of weapons and military services to and from North Korea. This seemingly random and rather unusual scenario deserves an explanation.

DRC has been a strategic country since colonial times and has been valued by foreign powers for its abundant natural resources. DRC is abundant in resources like timber, diamonds, and tin. In recent years, DRC has also gained attention for its coltan resources. Coltan is a metal that is valued for its ability to old an electrical charge. As a result, this metal is used in almost all consumer electronics like smartphones, laptops, and videogame systems. This has made coltan a strategic resource in today’s economy. This resource is scarce and as a result, demand for this metal has caused its price to spike.

What Did the London Anti-Corruption Summit Achieve?

What steps did the London Anti-Corruption Summit make towards eliminating corruption?

On 12 May 2016, David Cameron hosted the Anti-Corruption Summit in London. This summit aimed to bring together world leaders to discuss ways to expose corruption, punish those responsible, and to eliminate institutionalized practices that encourage corruption. I previously wrote an article explaining why this conference was unlikely to result in meaningful reform. So far, many civil society organizations have claimed that the Summit was underwhelming and did not go far enough. However, some positive steps were taken and as a result, I believe that it is worth exploring the end result of this Summit.

In the days before the Anti-Corruption Summit, tension started to brew as David Cameron was caught on camera stating that “Nigeria and Afghanistan are possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world.” This was expected to cause problems as the Nigerian and Afghani presidents were high profile invitees to the conference. Fortunately, this faux pas appeared to have been forgiven and the summit was able to proceed in a cooperative manner. At the Summit, several commitments and provisions were agreed to and published in a communiqué. Some of these provisions are as follows:

What Can we Expect from the London Anti-Corruption Summit?

On 12 May, 2016, many world leaders will meet at a summit in London to discuss corruption. The objective of this summit is to foster international cooperation for combatting corruption. Since this is occurring in the aftermath of the Panama Papers, the summit is coming at a very opportune time when this topic is still salient amongst the public. However, while this summit has noble objectives, many have expressed skepticism towards it.

On 8 May 2016 Downing Street published a statement from David Cameron about the summit. This statement, which recognizes the myriad of poverty and security-related problems that corruption causes, stated Cameron’s desire to formulate and implement the first global declaration against corruption and mechanisms for combatting it. In the process, David Cameron set lofty goals for international cooperation to engage in anti-corruption efforts. To this end, David Cameron invited many prominent heads of state to his summit, the agenda of which includes exposing corruption, punishing those responsible, and eliminating cultures of corruption. The British government has expressed optimism that this will lead to meaningful anti-corruption reform.

What is Donald Trump’s Endgame?: Revisited

Back in February, I wrote an article speculating about what Donald Trump was trying to achieve with his bid for the presidency. Given the strong social ties between the Trump and Clinton families, I concluded that Trump does not actually want to be president and that the likely reason for his candidacy was to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign. I argued that his campaign was a deliberate attempt to alienate the demographics that the Republican Party needs to win the general election. Since I wrote that article, Donald Trump has done just that and has become the GOP’s presumptive nominee. Hillary Clinton has also come close to winning the Democratic nomination. In light of these developments, it is worth revisiting my previous theory about Trump.

Since my previous article, Trump’s actions have largely conformed to the theory that I put forth. I argued that Trump would probably gain a following amongst the most extreme parts of the GOP and then leave the party, which would leave the Republicans divided and unable to contest the general election. However, Trump’s campaign has been unexpectedly successful and he has since become the frontrunner of his party. In this position, Trump has been able to sabotage the Republican Party. Trump has increasingly taken extreme “policy positions” and has, in the process, made him and the Republican Party very unpopular with important voter demographics. This has basically assured his defeat in the general election. His antics have also tarnished the reputations of many of the other Republican candidates and are threatening the reelection prospects of Republicans in the House and Senate. This has caused civil war within the party that has left them in disarray.

This Election Season Must Remain Non-Violent

With both Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropping out of the race, Donald Trump has become the Republican candidate for the general election. This nightmare scenario has set the stage for a turbulent general election season. This development, which has raised the specter of a dysfunctional future in which fascism rules America, has left many people in the US scared and angry. This has driven many people who oppose Trump to violently lash out, most recently at protests in Costa Mesa and Burlingame in California. This, however, is very short sighted and will only divide the country further.

I have previously written about how the use of violence in the name of anti-fascism will inevitably be used by Donald Trump to discredit his enemies. Despite this, anti-fascist protesters have continued to use violence to express their displeasure about Trump’s vitriolic ideology. They often justify this by arguing that anti-fascists and the United States as a whole will lose their credibility if people don’t make a vocal stand against Trump. In addition, they would argue that the public’s failure to react to Trump would amount to appeasement to fascism, which is comparable to how the Weimar Republic reacted to Hitler in the 1930s.