Buttigieg's Foreign Policy
The youngest of the Democratic candidates running for office in the 2020 election, people widely know and consider candidate Pete Buttigieg for his professional and academic credentials. People commonly refer to Buttigieg as “Mayor Pete” due to his current occupation as South Bend, Indiana’s mayor, but he also speaks eight languages, including Norwegian, Maltese and Arabic. Buttigieg received his Bachelor’s Degree from Harvard University in 2003, and soon after completed his postgraduate education as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. Between 2009 and 2017, he also served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserves. Buttigieg’s foreign policy has also set him apart as a champion for foreign policy.

Following his speech at the University of Indiana, where he discussed his foreign policy with an emphasis on national security, TIME Magazine referred to Buttigieg as the potential “foreign policy candidate in 2020.” Notably, while most other presidential candidates have only vaguely touched upon their foreign agenda, Buttigieg’s foreign policy has made up a key aspect of his campaign.

Indeed, Buttigieg advocates for organization and forward-thinking; the country’s decisions today will lead the nation and the world in the decades of tomorrow. In his words, “we need a strategy… Not just to deal with individual threats, rivalries, and opportunities, but to manage global trends that will define the balance of this half-century in which my generation will live the majority of our lives.”

This article outlines three key aspects one should know about Pete Buttigieg’s Foreign Policy, with respect to potential effects on global poverty trends and the developing world.

End the Endless War

Buttigieg criticizes the post-9/11 legislation that allows the president to use what they deem necessary military force against any organization who assisted with the terrorist attacks. Specifically, he points out that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) needs major correcting. A former naval intelligence officer himself, he detailed that this blank check that deployed him to Afghanistan needs changing: troops should only enter into conflict with the government’s complete understanding of the issue at hand and the possible consequences of military involvement.

According to Buttigieg, promoting a government that brings power to Congress once again in taking votes on war and peace would ensure a more careful government in its military decisions. This would especially be the case when U.S. involvement concerns vulnerable and severely impoverished countries, like Afghanistan.

Reverse Authoritarianism

Given the severity of conditions in North Korea, Buttigieg assures that he would not take any interactions with the regime lightly. Moreover, he is a clear believer in the liberal international order, which emphasizes democracy and leadership by the U.S. and its allies, as a way to greater ensure peace, prosperity and consequently lower global poverty rates.

Buttigieg believes reversing authoritarianism would require the unapologetic promotion of liberal order ideals. He also claims that the U.S. has lacked a proper foreign policy since the last presidential election, and incorporating the liberal international order and applying it in communications and relations with Russia or North Korea would bring structure to the U.S. foreign agenda.

Rejoining the Iran Nuclear Deal

Buttigieg has highlighted that as president, he would make nuclear proliferation and rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, a priority in his foreign policy. The Obama administration first established the agreement in 2015 and worked to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful in exchange for lifted sanctions by Germany and the U.N. Security Council, including the U.S. While the Iran Nuclear Deal and its consequences remain controversial domestically, Buttigieg’s vow to rejoin falls in line with the liberal international order, which stresses international cooperation and alliance, in addition to democracy.

Furthermore, there has been a reported economic crisis in Iran following the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal and implemented sanctions. According to Hassan Tajik, director of the Iranian group for the development of international trade, “one of the main problems is the reduction of people’s purchasing and financial capacity, which has brought the population to the edge of poverty.” Rejoining the deal begs the question of a potential change in impoverished conditions in Iran.

While Buttigieg’s speech may not be a Buttigieg Doctrine, he outlines clear priorities in a speech about foreign policy, which may deem him more foreign policy-oriented among the Democratic candidates. Buttigieg’s foreign policy has yet to disclose his complete stances on a range of foreign policy-related issues, but his speech has indicated his desire to involve the U.S. with international affairs in a cooperative, yet cautious manner. As demonstrated, doing so can have a major impact on global poverty trends.

– Breana Stanski
Photo: Flickr

Former presidents on foreign aidIt is not widely known how much foreign aid is being spent as a part of the national budget, especially because statistics and figures can change dramatically under different administrations and eras. The policies of former presidents on foreign aid can reflect the national and international priorities of the nation itself and what the presidents themselves valued more compared to other factors within the federal budget.

5 Former Presidents on Foreign Aid: Who Spent What?

  1. Harry S. Truman is well-known for the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine. While the Truman Doctrine was to extend economic and military aid to Greece, the Marshall Plan was more inclusive as it was designed to help Western European countries rebuild after World War II, consisting of $13 billion. Other goals achieved through these means were building markets for U.S. businesses and earning allies during the Cold War.
  2. Ronald Reagan believed in budget cuts domestically, but he was a strong advocate for non-military foreign assistance. He promoted the “0.6% of GDP” minimum to be spent on foreign aid, as he believed that such aid plays a large role in foreign policy strategies. Such strategies were to create stronger U.S. allies and to promote economic growth and democracy globally. Reagan also emphasized that it is an American value to provide foreign assistance based on the U.S. founding beliefs that “all men are created equal.”
  3. Jimmy Carter was an advocate for making human rights a priority of the U.S. foreign policy. Not only did he sustain foreign aid, he also made sure to redirect the routes of such aid away from brutal regimes, such as that of Ethiopia’s Mengistu Haile-Mariam. He also ensured that foreign aid was an instrument used for luring in more American allies during the Cold War. For instance, by 1980, 75 percent of the total aid designed for Africa were redirected towards the Horn of Africa, as Mengistu was Soviet-backed.
  4. During Barack Obama’s presidency in 2011, figures on foreign aid were reported as being increased by 80 percent when compared to the reports in 2008. Foreign assistance kept increasing from $11.427 billion in 2008 to $20.038 billion in 2010 to $20.599 billion in 2011. During 2011, the aid was split into Economic Support Fund, Foreign Military Financing Program, multilateral assistance, Agency for International Development, Peace Corps and international monetary programs.
  5. In 2002, George W. Bush planned an expansion of 50 percent over the next three years through the Millennium Challenge Account which would provide $5 billion every year to countries where that governed unjustly. Additionally, Bush called for $10 billion to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean over the following five years. There were also emergency funds put aside, consisting of $200 million for famine and $100 million for other complex emergencies.

The policies of former presidents on foreign aid widely reflect their intents and objectives, such as wishing to create more U.S. allies during the Cold War or to stop health epidemics from spreading, like HIV. International assistance can be employed in differing areas of focus that all eventually reach out to help an individual or a community climb out of poverty.

– Nergis Sefer
Photo: Flickr

Kosovo-Serbia Relations
Kosovo was once a province of Serbia, where  Serbians discriminated against and excluded Kosovars of ethnic Albanian origin all throughout the late 20th century. Excluded from education and administrative systems, Kosovars fought long and hard for their independence.

Kosovo History

After more than 800,000 Kosovars were forced to find refuge in neighboring countries from 1989 to 1999, NATO militarily intervened against the Yugoslavia and Serbia joint forces. After three months of NATO airstrikes, Yugoslav and Serbian forces withdrew from Kosovo and the U.N. was authorized to facilitate a political process to determine the future of Kosovo’s status.

After suffering years of systematic discrimination, the people’s right to self-determination prevailed; in 2008, Kosovo declared independence and became Europe’s newest state.

However, ten years on the relationship between Kosovo and Serbia is still relatively unstable. Recent talks between the two nations have been facilitated in the hopes of coming to a peaceful resolution. Below are five facts on Kosovo-Serbia relations today.

Facts About Kosovo-Serbia Relations

  1. Serbia, a state backed by Russia, does not recognize Kosovo as an independent state. Kosovo, as well as Serbia, is not recognized by 5 of the 28 European member states. Recently, a deal was proposed to Serbia to recognize Kosovo’s independence in exchange for EU membership. This is a long sought-after goal of Serbia.
  2. Kosovo’s population is made up of a majority ethnic Albanian population and a minority Serbian population. Serbians are mostly found in the north of the country. These populations have created some key issues within the country, as the Serbian majority population in the north is run by a parallel administration backed by the Serbian capital, Belgrade.
  3. The Serbian population refuses to integrate into Kosovo and wishes to keep close ties with Serbia and their administration. An example of the lack of integration between the two is Serbian and Kosovo schools in Kosovo. Both teach different versions of what occurred between 1989 and 1999 to coincide with their own versions. Schools teach different languages — Kosovars learn Albanian and Serbians learn Serbian — and neither interact with each other. This has created a cycle of hostility between the two ethnicities and countries.
  4. An association of Serbian municipalities was created as part of a deal brokered between the two countries in 2015. This was done to give more autonomy to the Serbian communities in Kosovo. The deal allowed the five percent of ethnic Serbs to have their own courts of appeal, budgets and police officers. However, this autonomy has caused some tension between the two groups. This year, amendments were requested as the agreement was deemed incompatible with Kosovo’s constitution and sovereignty.
  5. In the past few years, talks have been facilitated between the Serbian and Kosovo governments to put an end to their turbulent relationship. These discussions also strove for peace and agreement to come to fruition. In 2017, the Justice Agreement was reached, integrating all judicial personnel and allowing justice to be delivered across Kosovo, including the Serbian municipalities. This was a milestone for Kosovo-Serbia relations.

Future Relations

Since the end of the war, Kosovo-Serbia relations have been fraught with disagreements and tensions. However, things are looking up and future relations between Kosovo and Serbia seem to be more cooperative and peaceful.

Hopefully, there will be a full recognition of Kosovo’s independence followed by both its and Serbia’s admission to the European Union in the near future. The relationship between these two countries should be a fruitful and peaceful one, but acceptance and cooperation must come from both sides to ensure their peaceful coexistence.

– Trelawny Robinson
Photo: Flickr

U.S. relations with AlgeriaThe United States of America and Algeria have shared strong relations with each other since diplomatic relations began in 1962 following Algeria’s independence from France. Algeria was one of the first countries in the world to recognize the United States’ independence in 1795. U.S. relations with Algeria have benefited both countries due to a strong trade partnership and Algeria’s aid in fighting global terrorism.

Algeria is a strategically located and capable partner with the U.S and has strong diplomatic, law enforcement and security cooperation. U.S. bilateral foreign help to Algeria is designed to strengthen Algeria’s capacity to combat terrorism and crime. Foreign assistance supports Algeria’s ongoing fight against Da’esh, Al-Qaeda in the Islāmic Maghreb and other hostile actors in the region. U.S. relations with Algeria foster cooperation between the two countries in their commitment to fighting terrorism.

Algeria was one of the first countries to condemn the 9/11 attack on the U.S. and committed its support to the U.S. in fighting the War on Terror in the years to follow. Both countries have intensified their relationship in recent years when it comes to counterterrorism and law enforcement cooperation. U.S and Algeria conduct frequent civilian and military exchanges. Algeria has hosted multiple U.S. senior military officials and ship visits.

Algeria and the United States enjoy deep relations, as demonstrated by the frequency of visits by Algerian and American officials. The Secretary of State held a strategic dialogue with Algeria’s Foreign Minister in April 2015, and the Deputy Secretary of State visited Algeria in July 2016.

Algeria has remained relatively stable despite turmoil in neighboring countries, and it is playing a constructive role in promoting regional stability. Both countries are now focused on increasing the number of reciprocal trade missions to further develop their trade and economic relations. U.S. relations with Algeria have helped strengthen this trade connection.

American companies operating in the hydrocarbons sector have had had productive partnerships with Algerian counterparts for many decades. More recently, both countries have recognized additional opportunities and are moving into other areas of interest, including agriculture, dairy cattle, energy equipment and public works machineries. Today, 190 American companies are operating in Algeria.

The 2001 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement has opened new dialogues and discussions to further enhance cooperation. The U.S. is one of Algeria’s top trading partners and one of the top trading partners in the Middle East/North African region. Funding through the Middle East Partnership has been allocated to support the work of Algeria’s developing civil society through programming. The U.S. government continues to encourage Algeria’s economic reform program, its move toward transparent economic policies and the liberalization its investment climate.

The United States and Algeria have continued to help each through cooperation in counterterrorism and trade relations. This has helped foster economic growth in both countries, and has provided each other with a committed partner to aid in fighting terrorism and bolstering the security of the two nations. U.S. relations with Algeria are a great example of how aid, cooperation and good relations can be of great benefit to any two countries entering into a partnership and have a positive effect on the world as a whole.

– Zachary Ott

Photo: Flickr

global economy is on the risePeople around the globe experienced the mania of the Dow Jones’ historic low in February 2018. Some traders even questioned if this was a sign of a global stock market crash. But as the U.S. stock market recovers from its volatile hijinks, global trade as a whole is rising, and rapidly. This rapid rise has many economists optimistic that the global economy is on the rise as well.

The global economy is driven by trade. As international trade rises, so do technological developments as nations tear down trade barriers. According to a report by the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economics Policy Analysis, the volume of imports and exports grew by 4.5 percent in 2017. To gain perspective, this is a significant spike from a stagnant 1.5 percent rate of growth the previous year, which was the lowest since the global financial crisis in 2007-2008.

Globalization a Reason Why the Global Economy Is on the Rise

The world is changing. Globalization moves the market, just as we move through our interconnected culture of technology, digital communications and transportation. As markets evolve, global poverty is decreasing, while the global economy is on the rise.

Old business practices are being phased out, technology is replacing hard labor and workers are rising to higher levels of efficiency. Automation is shifting the way goods and services are distributed, easing mass production.

Nations have outsourced businesses to developing nations, partly to reduce wage costs. Yet, business process outsourcing provides an oasis of income for people in developing countries such as India, the Philippines and Malaysia. In many places, this opportunity to earn a living would not be possible without outsourcing.

As technology advances, the market shifts and standards of living rise across the globe. Developing countries who have broken trade barriers have developed competitive advantages in the production of certain products. Ukraine, for example, is known as the breadbasket for its richness in wheat and farmland. Venezuela is known for its vast oil supply and China’s factories are known for producing more than half of the world’s clothing.

Tariff Reduction Has a History of Success in Developing Countries

History reveals that nations who open their economies to trade with the global economy experience faster growth and poverty reduction. During the past 30 years, global poverty has been cut in half. Studies show that developing countries that lowered tariffs in the 1980s experienced quicker economic growth in the 1990s compared to those that did not. Tariffs, or taxes on imports and exports between sovereign states, are often viewed as barriers affecting the global economy.

Developing nations have tariffs that are three to four times higher than industrial countries, and they are even higher on agriculture. Average tariff protection in agriculture is about nine times higher than in manufacturing. This can undermine a developing country’s agricultural sector and exports by depressing world prices.

The outlook for the global economy depends on these countries tearing down trade barriers. Yet, political decisions in developed countries are affected by trade barriers as well. In Venezuela’s case, the U.S. has imposed investor-related sanctions on Venezuelan oil to pressure its government to address its humanitarian crisis of inflation and starvation. According to Reuters, U.S. officials are not ruling out a complete ban on Venezuelan oil in order to send a strong message to its dictator, Nicolás Maduro.

Trade Wars Are Common and May Not Affect Global Trend

China’s trade practices have also affected U.S. trade on a political level. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, recently called on U.S. President Trump for equal and fair rules for cars, citing China’s pressure on foreign businesses to partner with Chinese carmakers before manufacturing in China. Musk noted China’s 25 percent import duty on cars compared to America’s 2.5 percent duty. President Trump proposed a sweeping tariff on steel and aluminum on March 8, 2018, which characterizes the trade wars.

Skeptics believe this political decision could take the global economy down the rabbit hole. Others are bracing for a global crash for different reasons. “I still believe that we’ll face a financial crisis within the next two years if we don’t solve the debt problems,” said Bjorn Ritschewald, a civil engineer with the government Road and Traffic office in Bremen, Germany, a city popular for its maritime trade. “Almost every country spends more than its income. Actually, I don’t know any country that spends less than what it takes in.”

“Waves in trade flow are common, but it depends on the goods,” Ritschewald told The Borgen Project. “You can’t just look at the financial numbers. You also have to look at the real amount of goods and which kind of goods are being sold.” World markets experienced the rippling effects of the Dow Jones’ plunge. The plunge is characterized as market correction, a phenomenon where unusual market success sparks panicked selling, driving market drops across the globe.

On the other hand, many economists believe that the global economy is on the rise. Their confidence stems from positive trade initiatives such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement set to be signed by 11 countries in March. The trade wars and other trade barriers are pitfalls that affect the global economy. However, with trade growth booming, there is much optimism in the air about a healthy global economy in the future.

– Alex Galante

Photo: Google

The Growing Importance of US-Israel Relations Today
The relationship between the United States and Israel is one of political, economic and historical significance. Over the years and with changes in economic objectives and priorities, the mutual diplomatic relationship of goodwill between the two nations has provided both countries with essential benefits in economic growth and development.

The Origins of U.S.-Israel Relations

Historically, the growth of U.S.-Israel relations can be traced back to the inception of Israel shortly after the World War II. Since May 14th 1948, the United States has played a vital role in providing aid, advice, resources and assistance to Israel. Between the years 1976-2004, Israel became the largest recipient of of U.S. foreign aid. The Arab-Israeli Wars through the course of the 20th century tested the strength of the staunch diplomatic ties between both nations.

U.S.-Israel relations have helped redefine ties with other Arab nations as well. The U.S. commitment to foreign aid such as humanitarian assistance already plays a key role in international conflicts. In recent years in particular, the United States has continued to play an active role in political discourse in the Middle East and is a vital part of peaceful solutions to crises.

The Trump Administration is now redefining the steadfast U.S.-Israel relations. In a controversial move, President Trump began recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Also, with a concrete two-state solution still not on the table, U.S.-Israel relations continue to be challenged.

The Startup Nation

Imbibing the strength of the relationship is vital due to the potential impacts the connection can have on the future. Israel has already contributed to U.S. defense, trade and commerce in numerous ways over the years. In turn, given the potential of Israel’s young and growing population and rich natural resources and assets, U.S. businesses hope to tap into this advantage to expand into new product and labor markets.

Moreover, Israel now already boasts a high annual economic growth which reached a peak at 4.7 percent in January 2017. Since 2003, poverty and income inequality rates in Israel have also largely declined. As Israel remains one of the world’s most advanced economies, it is commonly referred to globally as the ‘Startup Nation.’

Yet, at the same time, according to an estimate made in the year 2012, nearly 19.4 percent of families in Israel still live below the poverty line. Consequently, 1 in 5 Israelis are presumed to be affected by poverty prevalent in the country.

Trade

In the realm of trade, Israel’s trade to the United States is essential as the number of dollars created by exports from Israel create the highest number of U.S. jobs among its free-trading partners. For Israel, the United States remains a vital free- trading partner as it provides the country with an outlet for goods and services.

Furthermore, investment between the U.S. and Israel not only pumps in more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), but it also plays a significant role in bringing in more American jobs. Investments are now expanding in key aspects like science and technology, agriculture and healthcare; Israeli innovations continually contribute to higher levels of efficiency and productivity as well.

Growth and Future Achievement

In recent years, clean energy, technology and environmental solutions have grown to become priorities of international discourse; in fact, according to a report by the Washington Institute, innovation in Israel is currently focused on addressing water and food security issues globally. U.S.-Israel collaborations in research and development programs are particularly notable for its advancements and contributions to the financial strength of both countries.

To conclude, U.S.-Israel relations continue to be an important source of economic, potential and financial support to both countries — a partnership that continues to grow with time. This varied connection between the two countries will have greater implications in the future, and should also provide a good buffer against shocks in the world economy.

– Shivani Ekkanath

Photo: Flickr

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to ColombiaForeign aid has always been a source of controversy in U.S. politics. Despite some negative feedback, the aid given to other countries has been beneficial to the U.S. For example, there are multiple ways that the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Colombia.

For more than 50 years, Colombia was ravaged by war and struggled to reach an agreement of peace that suited both warring parties. This caused the country to be caught in ongoing and seemingly never-ending turmoil. The war impacted millions of citizens in the country and took the lives of more than 220,000 people.

Plan Colombia

In 2016, the U.S. helped Colombia reach a peace agreement with the country’s largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The peace treaty was a culmination of years of hard work for both Colombia and the U.S., who has been working with Colombia to strengthen its military since 2000. The peace agreement has led to nearly 6,900 members of FARC putting down their guns and relocating to the demobilization zones put in place by the U.N. for the former soldiers in the war.

The peace agreement was known as “Plan Colombia,” and it resulted in many U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Colombia. The plan increased U.S. military and diplomatic support from the citizens of the country. 

Colombian Agency for Reintegration

The U.S. has helped Colombia garner peace, increasing military support in the U.S. in the process. The end of the war has prompted the Colombian government, with the help of the U.S., to start an Agency for Reintegration (ACR) in the country. The program is for the millions of people displaced by the war, as well as the soldiers that fought.

The ACR’s efforts include providing healthcare, employment opportunities, education and vocational training for the former soldiers as they transition back into society. Counting the soldiers and their families, almost 30,000 Colombians are in need of assistance and are receiving aid from the ACR.

Giving aid to foreign countries can reflect positively on the U.S. and can help other countries in need. With support from the U.S., Colombia has ended its civil war and has begun to reintegrate members of the war into society. In response to the aid given to Colombia, the U.S. benefits from raised support for the military and increased diplomatic support.

– Simone Williams
Photo: Flickr

Cory BookerIn October, a resolution regarding the United States’ role in the Global Partnership for Education was introduced to the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Relations.

The resolution was introduced by Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey. The implications of the resolution are deeply tied to the future development of education opportunities for children all over the world.

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is the only global fund currently in existence that is solely dedicated to education in developing countries. It was established in 2002 for this purpose, and aims to strengthen education systems with the goal of creating dramatic increases in the number of children actively attending schools and learning.

The GPE primarily works to achieve this goal by utilizing donors, international organizations, civil society, teacher organizations, the private section and private foundations. They are currently in the middle of the GPE 2020, a strategic five-year plan that began in 2015.

Senator Booker introduced a resolution to the Senate with various goals in mind, as well as the current obstacles and struggles facing underdeveloped nations where children lack adequate schooling or any form of education whatsoever.

As stated in the bill, the World Health Organization reported in 2011 that an estimated 90 percent of children with disabilities in the developing world do not attend school. Additionally, in 2016, the Global Education Monitoring Report found that an estimated 260 million children worldwide are not in school. Girls are statistically more likely to not be attending school than their male counterparts.

As also mentioned in the bill, the issue of lack of education is linked closely with the emerging threat of violence worldwide. In 1999, the World Bank released a significant study indicating that “every year of school decreases the change of male youth engaging in violent conflict by 20 percent.” Statistics such as these illustrate the far-reaching effects such a bill can have, and why education must be a top priority worldwide.

Melanie Snyder

Photo: Flickr

History of RefugeesWhile it is apparent there has been an increase in refugee traffic over the last few decades, the history of refugees extends much farther back in time. There are some important messages contained within these mass movements that can help explain why refugees are displaced to begin with, what human rights refugees have, why it has been challenging to integrate refugees into society once displaced and the major social advantages in doing so. Furthermore, the history of refugee movements is not localized to any single region, but rather it is a global crisis that involves every member of the planet.

A common question is whether an individual is a migrant or a refugee, and the difference is force versus choice. Being a refugee means having been forcibly pushed out of a community or home, usually by violent means. On the other hand, a migrant makes the conscious decision to leave one’s home and seek a better life. However, these words have recently been used more interchangeably, which has led to failures in international treaties, in the view of government intervention and in the role of the public at large in amending refugee crises.

Upon investigating the definitions of refugee and migrant, there are several examples of forced movements of groups of people throughout history. The post-war movement following WWII has been one of the largest in history, coming second to present-day examples in the Middle East. The WWII refugee movement spawned several ideas surrounding the human rights of refugees, most importantly, the Common Asylum System out of the Geneva Convention. This grants international protection to anyone that meets the criteria of a refugee. However, current political structures and views of refugee-receiving nations have been less than ideal despite treaties that grant asylum, which has perpetuated poverty crises and large death tolls.

It is important to learn from the history of refugees the facts and lessons surrounding current and future refugee movements. The major factors leading to these movements are poverty and political corruption, whether from the government or from radical groups. However, the most important takeaway is of human rights for the innocent, usually dynamic members of society who are willing to integrate into safer living situations and have proved to be productive and non-violent in their new homes.

Casey Hess

Photo: Flickr

Sanctions and Venezuela's Poor
With the recent political unrest in Venezuela surrounding the controversial election of President Nicolás Maduro, the United States has placed financial sanctions on Maduro and some of his high-ranking officials. These sanctions are aiming to freeze any of Maduro’s U.S. assets as well as halt all business between him and U.S. citizens. However, there may be an unfortunate connection between U.S. oil sanctions and Venezuela’s poor.

These individual embargoes may not be enough, though. The Trump administration is still considering whether or not to place economic sanctions on Venezuela’s oil sector, according to Reuters. This would hit the country hard, as the oil industry accounts for upwards of 95 percent of Venezuela’s export earnings. Venezuela is also the third largest supplier of oil exports to the United States.

While it is important to analyze the effects of economic sanctions on a nation’s elites, what are the effects of these actions on Venezuela’s general populace? More specifically, what effects will these actions against President Maduro have on his people, and are there potential collateral effects linking U.S. oil sanctions and Venezuela’s poor?

First, it should be noted that there are multiple types of sanctions that a country can pass. In terms of U.S. embargoes pertaining to Venezuela, the kinds of sanctions being enacted and debated are in regard to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List and the Sectoral Sanctions Identification (SSI) List, respectively.

As described in a case study by the U.S. State Department, sanctions targeting the SDN List are against individuals and entities, such as President Maduro and his high-ranking officials. SSI sanctions, on the other hand, target sectors in a foreign economy, such as the oil and gas industries in Venezuela.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the U.S. uses economic and financial embargoes more than any country or any body of countries in the world. As of 2015, the most notable U.S. sanctions historically have been levied against Cuba since 1960, Iran since 1984, North Korea since 2008, and the Ukraine/Russia since 2014.

U.S. embargoes against Venezuela began in 2015 when President Barack Obama issued an executive order targeting seven of Maduro’s high-level officials. New sanctions from late July added President Maduro himself to the SDN List.

In general, embargoes levied against individuals on the SDN List appear to have minimal collateral effects on that person’s respective regional economy. This is what the Obama administration argued when it placed sanctions on Venezuelan officials in 2015, and it is what the Trump administration is arguing now.

Sectoral sanctions, however, seem to have a broader impact on the country at large. The more a sanctioning country is a contributor to the economy of its target, the higher the potential is for collateral damage to occur.

For example, after monitoring the effects of sanctions placed on Russia by the United States and the European Union in 2014, U.S. State Department Deputy Chief Economist Daniel Ahn and Georgetown University professor Rodney Ludema concluded in a study that “sanctions [on Russia]…appear to be ‘smart,’ in the sense of hitting the intended targets…while causing minimal collateral damage.”

The E.U., however, who is Russia’s largest trading partner, had a different story. A study by the European Parliament in 2015 noted that Russian officials predicted an 8-10 percent loss of the country’s GDP due to the E.U. sanctions, resulting in a multitude of indirect collateral effects on the Russian economy and its people.

The scale of trade relations, therefore, directly correlates to the collateral damage sanctions have on an economy, and this must be considered when discussing U.S. sanctions and Venezuela’s poor. The oil sector accounts for 95 percent of Venezuela’s export earnings and 25 percent of their GDP, and because the United States is the country’s largest export destination according to OPEC, a sectoral sanction of this size could potentially have massive effects on Venezuela’s populace.

If Venezuela were to cease relations with their primary trade partner and lose the respective export earnings from their primary resource, the result would be a substantial decrease in national revenue. Money that would normally be used for social programs would be stifled, bringing more harm to a population that is already suffering from economic and political hardships plaguing the country.

Because of all this, it is important to watch the Trump administration and see how the President decides to handle the complex issues surrounding Venezuela. There is a viable argument that collateral damage would result from U.S. oil sanctions and Venezuela’s poor would bear the brunt of that damage.

John Mirandette

Photo: Flickr