Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle
gives a lecture at the Tower Center Jan. 23.
Spoiler alert: Vladimir Putin will win the 2018 Russian presidential election (if it can even be called an election), but is his support really at an all-time high? Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle, the final guest of the Russia Series, visited the SMU Tower Center to discuss Putin’s standing in Russia and world politics. He started his lecture with three reasons why Russia is still, and always will be, a crucial component of global politics:
Tower Center Academic Director James F. Hollifield wrote an essay for the Bush Institute’s The Catalyst about the difficulty of immigration reform. He argues that international migration policy is a difficult problem to solve because of politically salient entry and exit laws, as well as questions of market influence and the impact of refugee-causing disasters.
“We must resolve these issues if we are to experience a virtuous cycle of greater openness, wealth, and human development, rather than falling back into a vicious cycle that leads the world into greater anarchy, poverty, disorder and war,” Hollifield wrote.
Read his essay here.
HCM Tower Scholar Brian O’Donnell has gone on three mission trips to Mexico and South America. Most recently he traveled to Mexico City over fall break and worked with an organization called Hope for the Poor. The Tower Center sat down with Brian to hear about his experiences.
Tell us about working with Hope for the Poor.
HCM Tower Scholar Brian O’Donnell in Peru.
Hope for the Poor, founded by Craig Johring, works with three main communities in Mexico City.
One is a community living in the city dump —
it’s a place of last resort for families if the father doesn’t want to turn to criminal activity to make money. The people living there scavenge for things they can sell. Craig goes there and brings food and sets up soccer for the kids.
Another of the communities is homeless people living within a 10-block radius of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is the main tourist attraction in the city. Craig also has a food cart for the people there and we helped distribute food to them. He keeps a list of all of the homeless people around to make sure that if someone disappears he can find out what happened to them.
The third group lives at a women’s shelter that’s hardly even a shelter. It’s a state-run operation, and it’s basically a place where they round up anyone who is homeless so that they’re not on the street. Craig is the only person who visits the shelter from outside of the government and he brings basic things that the women normally wouldn’t have access to like shampoo bottles. He also talks to them since they don’t ever have people visit them.
We spent a day at each of these communities and tried to understand these people’s lives. It was really eye-opening.
More than 650,000 Rohingya people have fled the Rakhine State of Myanmar across the border to Bangladesh since a security crackdown began in August 2017. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to the actions of the Myanmar armed forces as ethnic cleansing. This is the fourth wave of forced migration of the Rohingya population since the country began its democratization process in 2011. Dr. Jacques Bertrand, professor of political science at the University of Toronto, discussed the roots of this crisis and what might happen next at the SMU Tower Center Jan. 10.
Roots of Racism
To understand the resentment and hatred the Burmese feel toward the Rohingya, Bertrand argues we first need to understand colonial Burma. The British Empire began to colonize Burma in 1824.
Dr. Jacques Bertrand gives a lecture at
the SMU Tower Center Jan. 10.
The Rakhine state was the first land to be annexed into the empire, and therefore experienced the highest levels of immigration of people from British India. These Indians became landowners and then continued to hire more Indians to work their land. The Burmese responded to the influx of Indian immigrants with a growing sense of nationalism and xenophobic sentiments.
Burma gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1948, and according to Bertrand, it was during this period that the Muslim Indian population in the Rakhine State identified themselves as Rohingya. The Rohingya enjoyed credibility in the democracy of the 1950s, but lost all their rights under the military regime of Ne Win in 1962. Ne Win attempted to remove all Indians from Burma in 1963-1964, claiming that they were foreigners and remnants of colonial rule. The Rohingya were then excluded from citizenship with the adoption of the 1982 citizenship law. By this law, residents had to prove they were living in Burma before colonial rule (1824) to gain citizenship. The law only recognized 135 ethnicities as national races, excluding several other minority groups from citizenship as well.
North Korea has developed nuclear capabilities that the United States assumed was out of reach for the isolated country in such a short period of time. Its advancement has changed the dialogue of policy toward the country for both the United States and China. Ken Jimbo, associate professor at Keio University, visited the SMU Tower Center to discuss Asia’s nuclear challenge in the first event of the semester Jan. 8.
Why is North Korea so Persistent?
Professor Ken Jimbo gives a presentation at the Tower Center,
“Asia’s Nuclear Challenge,” Jan. 8.
There are two pathways for North Korea to achieve its ultimate goal of regime stability: assured self-defense or economic development. Both China and Vietnam were able to jump-start their economies by opening them up, at the very least, to foreign direct investment. Jimbo pointed to the internal struggle in North Korea between fundamentalists, like Supreme Leader Kim Jung-un, and internationalists, who argue for opening up the economy like Kim Jung-un’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek. Jang was ordered assassinated by Kim in 2014, and Jimbo argues that his internationalist beliefs could have been the reason for his death sentence.
Considering Kim’s violent animosity toward the internationalist mindset, economic development is therefore not an option to secure stability. North Korea then must be able to defend itself for the Kim family to stay in power. Kim Jung-un has determined that becoming a nuclear state and achieving complete deterrence is the only way to do this.
Tower Center Experts Harold Clarke and Marianne Stewart authored a post for the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog with Paul Whiteley. The essay, “The ‘Trump Bump’ in the stock market is real. But it’s not helping Trump,” looks at data collected since Trump’s election to determine whether or not he really his the source of the stock market’s recent upward trend.
Read their analysis here.
Tower Center Associate Idean Salehyan has several research interests, all centered around domestic political conflict. The Tower Center sat down with him to talk with him about his latest projects and goals. Salehyan is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas and the co-Director of the Social Conflict Analysis Database project (SCAD).
What have you been working on most recently?
Tower Center Associate Idean Salehyan
on a hike outside of Oslo, Norway.
Most recently I’ve been looking at protests and repression dynamics. I’m part of a project called the Social Conflict Analysis database. We look at Africa, North Africa, and parts of Latin America to understand when protests turn violent and when the government decides to step in and repress protesters, and so I have a couple of papers along those lines. One is focused on when and under what conditions governments repress nonviolent protesters. When is nonviolent protest met with lethal force? And another paper is looking at electoral protests and which elections are more likely to lead to mass protests and violent contestation of the outcome.
I’ve had this longstanding interest in forced migration and refugee studies, so I am also in the process of guest editing a special issue of the Journal of Peace Research on the global migration crisis focusing on Syria and the Middle East refugee crisis.
Congratulations to Tower Center Associate Erin Hochman! Her latest book, “Imagining a Greater Germany” (Cornell University Press, 2016), won the Hans Rosenberg Book Prize. The award was presented by the Central European History Society for the best book published in 2016. Hochman is a historian of Modern Germany and Austria and is an associate professor at SMU.
Jonah Busch, Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development, gives a lecture at the SMU Tower Center Dec. 8.
Jonah Busch, Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development, gave a lecture at the SMU Tower Center on the impact of the U.S. leaving the Paris Climate Agreement Dec. 8.
The Paris Agreement is a universal global climate deal that allows each country to determine its own pledge to reduce carbon emissions, with the goal to limit climate change to below 2 degrees Celsius. The agreement, first established at the Paris climate conference in 2015 and ratified in 2016, is now signed by every country (except for the United States) and has been ratified by 170 countries. President Trump announced the United States withdrawl from the agreement in June.