OurYear In Politics: 2018

Here are the main political events that occurred throughout the past year. From Trump’s bizarre antics to foreign policy triumphs and tragedy to political scandals at the highest levels of government, 2018 was an exciting and unforgettable year in the realm of Politics.

January

New Infrastructure Bill and a Renewed Nuclear Arms Race

#Infrastructure

President Trump proposed an ambitious infrastructure reform bill at the end of January meant to help the US regain a competitive advantage when compared to emerging economies throughout the world.

January 2018 got off to an interesting start in terms of political developments. Shortly before his January 30 “State of the Union Address,” President Donald Trump proposed an ambitious $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill with the goal of modernizing the American economy and allowing it to maintain a competitive advantage with rising global powers such as Russia, China, Iran, India, and South Korea. “America is a nation of builders, We built the Empire State Building in just one year. Isn’t it a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?” said Trump shortly after announcing the proposal. Thus far, Congress has not moved to push forward the proposal, though it is likely that the House of Representatives (which is under Democratic control as of January of 2019) may take action on the proposal sometime next year.

 

 

 

#Nuclearweapons

Defense Secretary James Mattis announced major changes to the US nuclear policy in a report issued at the end of January.

Much to the dismay of disarmament advocates and activists in the peace movement, the Trump Administration announced an aggressive nuclear weapons strategy at the end of January. The new policy, as announced by Defense Secretary James Mattis, called for the introduction of “low-yield nuclear weapons” on submarine-launched ballistic missiles and the development of nuclear submarine-launched cruise missiles. Despite being called “low-yield” these new weapons could potentially cause as much damage as the nuclear bombs dropped by the US on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The main point of this change in policy, according to the Trump Administration, is to pressure US rivals such as Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea into giving in to US demands in terms of both their internal and external policies. This policy may also trigger a renewed nuclear arms race and increase the risk of a nuclear war to a level even higher than it was during the peak of the Cold War (1955-1962).

February

School Shootings & New Presidential Historian Rankings

#TragetyInFlorida

A horrific school shooting occurred in Florida on February 14, reigniting the gun control debate in the US.

On February 14, a mass shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 17 people were killed and 15 were wounded, making it one of the deadliest school massacres since Columbine some 19 years earlier. The shooting was carried out by Nikolas Jacob Cruz, a 19-year old high school senior with a known past of threatening his fellow students, posting hate content on his social media accounts, and bragging about killing animals. Additionally, Cruz holds extremist views and advocated the killing of African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Muslim-Americans, and the LGBT community. Politicians on both sides of the political aisle have condemned the shooting and reached out to the victims. Bith President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Rick Scott immediately expressed strong support for the victims and their families and called for an end to school shootings. The shooting also renewed public debate over the issue of gun control. For example, student survivors organized the group Never Again MSD to demand legislative action to prevent similar shootings from occurring again and to call out US lawmakers (mostly Republicans, but a few Democrats as well) who have received campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

#Bottomranked?

According to the most recent rankings by the American Political Science Association, President Donald Trump now ranks as the worst President in US History.

On February 19, the most recent Presidential historical rankings were released by the American Political Science Association. The new rankings, to the surprise of none, place Donald Trump at the very bottom of the list (below even the infamous James Buchanan). Additionally, the rankings place Barack Obama as the eight greatest President in US history, one place above Ronald Reagan and one spot below Dwight Eisenhower. Despite their low ranking of Trump, the authors of the study do indicate that Trump has plenty of time to improve his ranking considering that he has more than two years left in his first term.

March

Trump Cabinet Shake-ups & Growing Protests in the Gaza Strip 

#Tillerson

President Donald Trump dismissed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson amid a declining relationship and a disappointing tenure.

On March 13, President Donald Trump announced that he has fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and nominated CIA Director Mike Pompeo to succeed him. Tillerson’s departure followed months of tension between him and Trump. President Trump publicly undercut Secretary Tillerson’s diplomatic initiatives numerous times since he came to office over a year ago. For example, President Trump criticized Tillerson’s positions on Iran, the European Union, NATO, and Russia. For Tillerson’s replacement, President Donald Trump named CIA Director Mike Pompeo and moved up Gina Haspel to the post of CIA director. In a Twitter post, Trump stated that “Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!” Despite the optimistic tone of President Trump regarding these changes, they point to an Executive Branch in continual flux and crisis.

#Gaza

Major protests broke out along the Israel-Gaza border at the end of March, resulting in the deaths of 16 and international outcry against Israeli policies.

On March 30, tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip participated in non-violent protests as part of the Great Return March. Palestinian participants soon began walking towards the fence that separates the strip from Israel and were met with live fire from the Israeli military that saw hundreds of people injured and 16 killed. The protests were held to commemorate Land Day and demonstrate for the rights of Palestinian refugees to be resettled in Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Secretary Avigdor Lieberman responded to the protests by claiming that Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007, had sent women and children to the fence as human shields. The Israeli response drew widespread criticism around the world, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling for an independent inquiry into Friday’s events. Additionally, several countries in the Middle East condemned the response to the protests by the Israeli government. Perhaps the country that most forcefully condemned the actions of Israel was Iran. In a Twitter post on March 31, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif stated that “On the eve of Passover (of all days), which commemorates God liberating Prophet Moses and his people from tyranny, Zionist tyrants murder peaceful Palestinian protesters – whose land they have stolen – as they march to escape their cruel and inhuman apartheid bondage.” On the other hand, the US blocked a UN Resolution denouncing the Israeli response and placed the blame squarely on the part of the Palestinian protestors.

April

Tensions in Syria & Growing Support for Marijuana Legalization

#Syria #ChemicalWeapons

The US and several of its European allies launched airstrikes in Syria in response to allegations of chemical weapons use by the Assad government.

The US and several of its allies launched airstrikes on April 13 against several Syrian military targets in response to a supposed chemical attack near Damascus ordered last week by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that killed nearly 40 people. These are not the actions of a man, they are crimes of a monster instead,” President Trump said of Assad’s presumed chemical attack in an oval office address. The operations carried out by the US, UK, and France in Syria were somewhat limited than originally anticipated. The main target in the operation was the Barzah Research and Development Center, a scientific research center located outside of Damascus. The facility was hit with 76 missiles, utterly destroying the facility and setting back the Syrian chemical weapons program back at least several years according to Secretary of Defense James Mattis. The international reaction to the US strike in Syria was mixed overall. Several US allies in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia and Israel applauded the strike and pledged to expand their support for regime change in Syria. On the other hand, Russia, Iran, China, as well as several socio-political organizations active in the Middle East such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthi Movement forcefully condemned the strikes.

President Donald Trump announced his approval for efforts to protect the rights of states that have already legalized marijuana, shifting away from his “law-and-order” image.

#MarijuanaLegalization

Previously a strong opponent of Marijuana legalization, President Donald Trump also took an interesting turn regarding this policy issue in April. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), a strong supporter of efforts at the state level to legalize marijuana, said on April 13 that President Trump made the pledge to him in a conversation two days earlier. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Gardner’s account was accurate and the president supported states’ rights in the matter. Senator Cory Gardner has been pushing to reverse a decision made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in January that removed prohibitions that kept federal prosecutors from pursuing cases against people who were following pot laws in states such as Colorado that have legalized the drug. “President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all,” Gardner said in a statement to the press. Additionally, Gardner pledged to introduce bipartisan legislation keeping the federal government from interfering in state marijuana markets.

President Donald Trump controversially withdrew from the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement on May 8.

May

US Withdraws from Iranian Nuclear Deal & Renewed Social Conservatism

#JCPOA

On May 8, President Donald Trump pulled the plug on the Iranian nuclear agreement, saying that the Iranian government has failed to live up to its obligations and violated the spirit of the accord. Yet since no tangible evidence that was presented, the unilateral decision places the US in violation of the treaty and subject to international scorn.  Despite withdrawing from the agreement, the Trump Administration announced that it would be willing to renegotiate a “tougher, more comprehensive deal” with Iran. President Donald Trump proposed that any new agreement with Iran would include indefinite restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program (the original agreement only lasted 15 years and became noticeably less strong after the first 10 years), as well as restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program. Additionally, the Trump Administration stated that a new agreement would also limit Iran’s foreign policy and their humanitarian efforts to defend both the Shi’a Muslims of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, YemenAfghanistan, and Pakistan, as well as the Palestinian people. In response to Iran agreeing to these new provisions, the Trump Administration would remove all sanctions against the Iranian government, restart diplomatic ties, and work to modernize the Iranian economy.

Iowa Governor and staunch Trump ally Kim Reynold signed into law the nations strictest anti-abortion bill on May 4.

#Abortion #SocialConservatism

On May 4, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (a devout Catholic and strong supporter of President Donald Trump) signed a law banning most abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, or at around six weeks of pregnancy, marking the strictest abortion regulation in the nation. The Republican governor signed the legislation in her formal office at the state Capitol as protesters gathered outside chanting, “My body, my choice!” Reynolds acknowledged that the new law would likely face litigation, but said that “This is bigger than just a law, this is about life, and I’m not going to back down.” The ban has propelled Iowa to the front of a push among conservative statehouses jockeying to enact restrictive regulations on the medical procedure. Backers of the legislation hope it could challenge Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that established women have a right to terminate pregnancies until a fetus is viable. Critics argued the bill would ban abortions before some women even know they are pregnant, which will likely set up Iowa for a legal challenge.

June

Peace Between the US & North Korea?, Scientific Discoveries, & Another Trumpcastrophe

#Trump #KimJonUn #Rocketman

President Donald Trump met with Kim Jong-un at the beginning of June, signaling a new chapter in the relationship between the US and North Korea.

On June 12, US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended a historic summit meeting in Sentosa, Singapore. This meeting was notable in that it was the first meeting between the leaders of the US and North Korea. In their meeting, both President Trump and Kim -Jong-un signed a joint statement agreeing to security guarantees for North Korea, new peaceful relations, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, recovery of soldiers’ remains, and follow-up negotiations between high-level officials. After nearly seven decades of US aggression towards North Korea and provocative statements on the part of President Trump, this meeting may signal a new chapter in US-North Korea relations and may bring about a just and lasting peace in the Korean Penninsula

NASA Finds Ancient Organic Material, possibly linked to life, on the Martian surface.

#Mars #AncientAliens #NASA

On June 7, the US space agency (NASA) says its Mars exploration vehicle has discovered chemical substances necessary for life. Scientists reported that NASA’s Curiosity Rover found large amounts of organic molecules in a thousands-year-old rock in an area called the Gale Crater. The area on Mars is believed to have once contained a large lake that evaporated due to some unknown cataclysm a millennia ago. The discovery of organic molecules suggests that ancient conditions on Mars may have supported life. Ashwin Vasavada a scientist working on the Curiosity project stated that the chances of being able to find signs of ancient life (perhaps even remnants of a humanoid civilization that existed millions of years ago) with future missions “just went up.” Additionally,  Jennifer Eigenbrode (an astrobiologist with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center) noted that there is a strong possibility that the organic molecules were, in fact, created by some form of ancient life on the Martian surface. The impact of these findings is significant because it may result in increased funding for space programs such as NASA, as well as higher levels of support for space exploration efforts. Currently, the total budget for NASA represents less than 0.5% of the federal budget and an overwhelming majority of Americans today feel that the federal government spends far too much on space exploration and that the money would be better spent on education, public health, and developing alternative energy sources. The discovery of remnants of an ancient civilization on Mars might create the perception in the eyes of the American people that further space research and exploration is worth it and that the federal government should rethink its priorities to make such efforts a reality

#Trumpism

In his second G7 conference as President, Donald Trump and his erratic policies decrease certainty in the future role of the US in the eyes of European leaders.

In his second G7 Summit since assuming office, President Donald Trump alienated the closest allies of the US at the annual summit of the group in Canada with his aggressive trade declarations and a surprising suggestion that Russia should be readmitted to the exclusive club of major economic powers. After leaving early, President Trump went on Twitter to blow up the agreement forged at the meeting. Trump exited the Quebec resort on June 9 where the group had gathered, leaving other world leaders whipsawed and uncertain about their future relationship with the US, to head to Singapore for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday. Trump’s actions added to the anxiety of longtime US allies, who are alarmed to see him lashing out against them while he is advocating for Russian President Vladimir Putin and cozying up to North Korea. Most political observers feel that the G7 summit ended in abject failure and only served to highlight the ideological and political divisions between Trump and Western allies and fueled fears that the most successful alliance in history is beginning to erode. “What worries me most, however, is the fact that the rules-based international order is being challenged, quite surprisingly not by the usual suspects but by its main architect and guarantor, the US,” said Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council.

 July

A New Supreme Court Justice & the Putin-Trump Bromance Continues

#Kavanaugh #SupremeCort

President Donald Trump announced his selection of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court this week.

In a prime-time address on July 9, President Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to fill Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s seat on the Supreme Court. Presenting Judge Kavanaugh at the White House, President Trump described him as “one of the finest and sharpest legal minds in our time,” and stated that he is a jurist who would set aside his political views and apply the Constitution “as written.” Kavanaugh was selected from a list of “25 highly qualified potential nominees” considered by the Trump Administration. The main reasons cited by President Trump for the nomination of Kavanaugh included his “impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications, and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law” with the emphasis that “what matters is not a judge’s political views, but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require.” In his remarks, Judge Kavanaugh, who once clerked for Justice Kennedy, said he would “keep an open mind in every case.” But he declared that judges “must interpret the law, not make the law.”

President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week in a controversial summit in Finland.

#Putin #Trump

Amid chaos following his bizarre antics at the June G-7 Summit and the ongoing investigations into allegations that the Russian government colluded with his 2016 Presidential campaign, President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir in Helinski, Finland on July 16 in their first-ever summit meeting. The summit marked the first official meeting between the leaders after previous unofficial talks between Trump and Putin at the 2017 G20 conference in Vienna. In addition to meeting with Putin, Trump also met the Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in the Presidential Palace. Some of the topics Trump pledged to discuss with Putin include the ongoing Syrian Civil War, the tensions between Russia and Ukraine, the steadily declining relationship between the US and Iran, and measures to reduce the threat of nuclear war between the US and Russia.

August: Environmental Policy Change & The Death of Moderate Republicanism

John McCain, who endured six years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam before becoming the 2008 Republican presidential nominee and serving Arizona for nearly 36 years in Congress, died On August 25 at age 81. Destined to be remembered among the political giants of American history, McCain disclosed in July 2017 that he had been diagnosed with a deadly form of brain cancer called glioblastoma. McCain was a two-time presidential candidate, losing the GOP nomination in 2000 to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush and the general election in 2008 to Barack Obama. Despite the fact that he generally aligned with Neoconservatives on foreign policy and called for increased US military intervention in the Middle East, John McCain developed a reputation as a moderate Republican overall and as a strong opponent of the Truman Administration. Despite the fact that politicians on both sides of the aisle praised Senator McCain and his accomplishments,  President Donald Trump had a muted reaction to McCain’s death, refusing to issue a statement praising McCain’s life and opting to not fly the flag at half-staff (which is the typical custom of the President to do when a member of Congress dies in office) in honor of McCain.

President Donald Trump this week announced his intention to roll-back the “Clean Power Plan,” as well as other Obama-era environmental regulations.

On August 21, the Trump administration revealed a plan to scale back an Obama-era rule designed to cut planet-warming emissions from the nation’s power plants. The proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency will reportedly hand authority to states to create their own rules for coal-fired power plants. That would give states the option to impose looser restrictions that allow utilities to emit more greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and other pollutants — or to defer taking any action. The measure also stands to relieve pressure on the coal industry, a sector President Donald Trump has vowed to revive. Coal miners have seen their fortunes fade as coal-fired plants retire ahead of schedule, under pressure from cheap natural gas and falling prices for renewable energy projects.

More stringent regulations implemented in 2015 by former President Barack Obama put stress on the coal industry by requiring power plants to undertake expensive upgrades or shut down. President Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan established the first nationwide rules for carbon emissions. It set emissions goals for each state and gave them many options to reduce climate pollution, with the goal of cutting the nation’s emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels. The new plan from the Trump Administration does not set a hard goal for nationwide emissions reductions, according to reports. It is projected to allow 12 times more greenhouse gas to be emitted over the next decade than under the Clean Power Plan and asks states to focus on requiring coal plants to take steps to run more efficiently. In contrast, the Clean Power Plan allowed states to meet their goals by taking measures that would push coal out of the energy mix, including adding more solar and wind farms or converting coal plants to natural gas facilities. The Trump plan would also give states a chance to forgo creating any new rules by allowing them to explain why they do not need to take action. It is possible that several states (namely Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas) could pursue that option, given significant opposition to Obama’s plan.

September: A Supreme Court Showdown 

Sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh were revealed this week.

What was expected to be a relatively easy confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh took an interesting turn in September with the revelation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford, currently a Palo Alto University Psychology professor back when they were in high school in the 1980s. On September 16, Ford went public with her allegation of sexual misconduct on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Brett Kavanaugh immediately denied the allegations, stating that”he had never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone. Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday. I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the Committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.” Despite the serious allegations against him, Judge Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed by the Senate by a close 51-49 vote on September 28, with all Republicans except Lisa Murkowski voting in favor, and all Democrats except the arch-conservative Joe Manchin voting against Kavanaugh.

President Donald Trump delivers a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

In his September 25 speech at the UN General Assembly, US President Donald Trump urged all the other nations to reject globalism and embrace nationalism while he was interrupted by derisive laughter from other world leaders. Over the course of the bombastic address, Trump highlighted the (imaginary) achievements of his presidency, lashed out at enemies, Iran foremost among them, and railed against multilateralism in its spiritual home, the UN general assembly. In one of the more remarkable moments in the history of the annual UN summit, the chamber broke out in spontaneous laughter at Trump’s claim that “in less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.” Clearly taken aback, Trump said: “I didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s OK.”

Overall the international community has reacted negatively to President Donald Trump’s speech, noting that its tone and theme of the address are in direct contradiction to the core values that the United Nations had promoted since its founding nearly 75 years ago. In response to the speech, UN secretary general António Guterres said President Trump’s fiery rhetoric shows that “democratic principles are under siege” throughout the world. Additionally, French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the spread of global lawlessness, “in which everyone pursues their interest,” and noted that the policies of President Trump are partially to blame for this troubling trend. On the other hand, the governments of Russia, Israel, and Saudi Arabia have praised President Trump, arguing that his speech was a “very welcoming statement.”

October: Political Violence & Turmoil in Saudi Arabia

Jamal Khashoggi, a major Saudi dissdent, was assassinated by the Saudi government on Turkish soil on October 2, revealing the brutal face of Saudi Arabia.

On October 2, Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident Saudi Journalist for the Washington Post, was assassinated at the Saudi consulate in Turkey by agents employed by Mohammed bin Salman, the current Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Known as a strong critic of the current government of Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi developed a reputation as an opponent of Zionism and the Israeli government, a critic of the ongoing Saudi War in Yemen, and a critic of the oppression of Shi’a Muslims by the Saudi government. These actions made him a prime target to be eliminated by the Saudi government. The international community generally reacted negatively to the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, although US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implicitly praised the Saudi government for carrying out his assassination and stated that Khashoggi was a “Muslim Brotherhood operative, a pro-jihad, pro-Iranian, pro–[Tayyip] Erdoğan Jew-hater. A supporter of Iran. Basically, he died as a warrior on the wrong side of the war on terror.” Despite the lack of punishment by the international community for their crime, the assassination of Khashoggi did raise some doubts regarding the human rights record of Saudi Arabia.

A Pittsburgh-area synagogue was the site of one of the worst religiously-motivated mass shootings in US history on October 27.

Armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and at least three handguns, a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs opened fire inside a Pittsburgh synagogue on October 27, killing at least 11 congregants and wounding four police officers and two others. The public reaction to the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting was one of condemnation. Calling it the “most horrific crime scene” he had seen in 22 years with the FBI, Robert Jones, special agent in charge in Pittsburgh, said the synagogue was in the midst of a “peaceful service” when congregants were gunned down and “brutally murdered by a gunman targeting them simply because of their faith.” “We simply cannot accept this violence as a normal part of American life,” said Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf in a news conference in Pittsburgh shortly after the incident occurred. “These senseless acts of violence are not who we are as Pennsylvanians and are not who we are as Americans.” Additionally, President Donald Trump similarly condemned the shooting, stating that “It’s a terrible, terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country and frankly all over the world, and something has to be done.”

November: Midterm Election Shake-up

The 2018 midterm elections in the US revealed an extremely mixed and divided political picture.

On November 6, the US midterm elections were held and ultimately revealed an increasingly divided American electorate. In the House of Representatives, the Democrats gained nearly 40 seats, narrowly regaining control over that legislative body for the first time since 2010. Additionally, the Democrats also gained control of key governorships in Wisconsin, Illinois, New Mexico, and Michigan. Despite Democratic gains in certain areas of the country, the Republicans expanded their Senate majority by 3 seats, picking up seats in Missouri, North Dakota, Indiana, and Florida as well as by holding onto vulnerable seats such as Texas and Mississippi. These mixed results reveal the fact that the American electorate is divided in their opinions of President Donald Trump and may spell troble for the President in accomplishing his agenda over the next two years.

President Trump reimposed sanctions against Iran on November 5, following through on his threat from earlier in the year.

Described as the “biggest series of sanctions ever implemented by the US against another country,” the Trump Administration imposed a series of crushing and punitive sanctions against Iran on November 5. The package of severe economic penalties imposed against Iran by the US is the most significant part of President Trump’s decision last May to abandon the Iranian nuclear agreement of 2015 (JCPOA), which he has described as a “disaster” and a significant security risk for US allies in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia and Israel. Despite the stringent nature of the sanctions, there are several exceptions that could reduce their effectiveness. For example, Iran’s biggest oil customers India and China are exempt from the sanctions. Despite several gaps, Iran’s shipping, banking, and oil industries could take a significant hit and its already weakened currency could plunge even further due to the sanctions.

The international reaction to the newly imposed sanctions against Iran by the US has been overwhelmingly negative. Despite countries such as Saudi Arabia and Israel enthusiastically supporting the Trump Administration’s policy, other countries such as the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia were quick to condemn the sanctions as “punitive” and as having no justification. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that his country would “proudly break” the reimposed sanctions and that Iran was engaged in “an economic war” with the US, and Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, an outspoken critic of President Trump, said the sanctions reinforced what he called the growing isolation of the United States. The outcome of the sanctions against Iran is unclear at this point. While some observers note that the sanctions may result in the Iranian government ultimately collapsing, recent events show that in times of elevated sanctions, the Iranian economy has instead adapted and, in some cases, thrived due to its effective use of Import Substitution Industrialization (ISI) policies. Additionally, the reimposition of US sanctions against Iran raises the specter of war to a level unseen in recent years. For example, the Iranian military tested new missiles as part of its air defense system hours after the sanctions resumed, and announced that it has every right to retaliate against the US in response to the sanctions.

December: Death of a Statesman

Former President George H.W. Bush (1989-93) passed away this week at the age of 94, leaving behind an extensive legacy of public service.

On December 1, former US President George H.W. Bush (1989-93) passed away at his home in Houston, Texas at the age of 94. Largely considered by historians to have been an “average” President along the lines of Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, and William Howard Taft, Bush assumed office at the end of the Cold War and was arguably the most experienced President in US history, having served in Congress between 1966 and 1970 (Bush was one of the few Southern Congressmen who supported the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which banned racial discrimination in the realm of housing), as UN Ambassador and CIA Director during the Nixon and Ford Administrations, and as Vice President under Ronald Reagan (1981-89). Despite his achievements in the foreign policy realm, Bush was perceived to have mishandled the Recession of 1990-93 and came across as aloof to the needs of the American people. Both of these factors resulted in Bush losing re-election in a close three-way race to then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton in 1992. Despite his lackluster Presidency, Bush remained active in public life and actively campaigned and supported his son George W. Bush in his successful 2000 and 2004 Presidential bids. In recent years, Bush emerged as a major critic of President Donald Trump, having refused to vote for him in 2016, instead opting to support Hillary Clinton instead.

As with the death of Senator John McCain earlier this year, the life and legacy of President George H.W. Bush was praised by politicians on both sides of the aisle. Additionally, President Donald Trump was roundly criticized for his actions at the state funeral, as he refused to express his condolences to the Bush family and did not acknowledge former President Barack Obama and his 2016 Presidential rival Hillary Clinton. These actions seem to show that President Donald Trump is indeed a narcissist who only cares about himself at the expense of others.

the author

Matt is a student at Seton Hall Law School and graduated from Monmouth University. Matt has been studying and analyzing politics at all levels since the 2004 Presidential Election. He writes about political trends and demographics, the role of the media in politics, comparative politics, political theory, and the domestic and international political economy. Matt is also interested in history, philosophy, comparative religion, and record collecting.

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