Author: Aliza Litchman

Why Support the Syrian Rebels?

President Obama’s current strategy in Syria, to arm and train moderate rebels and execute airstrikes on the Islamic State, is problematic. The U.S. will have difficulty stabilizing Syria because the Syrian Civil War is a fractured hotbed of violent extremism and radical ideology. Instead, the U.S. must seek a threefold approach of militarily attacking the Islamic State; diplomatically coordinating support among Middle Eastern Sunni countries for strong, politically moderate Syrian leadership; and containing the effects of the Syrian Civil War within Syria. Through supporting the Syrian rebels, Obama unintentionally supports the massacre of Shia Muslims and the growth of...

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Living Under Fire: My Experiences Living in a War Zone

*Note from the author – In this article I only tell my personal experiences living and traveling in the Middle East. I do not discuss Gaza because I have no firsthand experience traveling in Gaza. Also, the portrayal of life in Israel is unique to my situation and does not represent the experiences of other individuals living and traveling within Israel. I arrived in Israel on June 5th during a period of relative quiet. Only four rockets were fired into Israel during the month of May and Israel’s tourist industry was gearing up to experience a record high summer....

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Qatar 2022: A World Cup Built on Slavery

For the first time in history, an Arab country, Qatar, has won the bid to host the World Cup in 2022. Yet, allegations of borderline slave labor used to build the stadium have caused many to wonder whether Qatar deserves to host the World Cup. These allegations are based on two prominent studies independently conducted by Amnesty International and the UK newspaper, The Guardian. This shocking revelation is particularly disappointing considering that Qatar won the bid by highlighting the World Cup’s potential to bridge gaps between the Arab and Western worlds and to create unity and understanding. Sheikh Mohammed bin...

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eDiplomacy in the State Department: Pitfalls and Potential

It’s difficult to ignore the impact of social media on the U.S. State Department. Hillary Clinton was the first Secretary of State to fully embrace the potential of social media on diplomacy efforts, and since then, its use within U.S. diplomacy has exploded. The State Department is now a member of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr, Google+, and several blogs, attracting more than 27 million followers collectively. Keeping track of these social media accounts is the responsibility of the Office of eDiplomacy. Its stated goal is to “[Advance] diplomacy by providing effective knowledge-sharing initiatives.” Obviously, social media has been a major influence in how the United Stated conducts diplomacy, but has it changed diplomacy for the better? This is not such an easy question to answer. The use of social media has clearly given the State Department some serious headaches. For example, in 2012 an American resident created an anti-Islam movie, entitled “The Real Life of Muhammad.” In response to the movie, senior public affairs officer Larry Schwartz of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, wrote a tweet condemning actions that abuse free speech to hurt other’s religious beliefs. Unfortunately, Schwartz’s statement was not seen as support for religious tolerance, rather a criticism of free speech. For instance, Mitt Romney condemned the comment as “an inappropriate apology and a failure to stand up for American principles such as freedom of...

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The Danger of Cyber Threats: The Future of Warfare

In mid September 2012, The New York Times’ computer systems were infiltrated by a series of cyber attacks traced to Chinese hackers. Reporters’ passwords were stolen and sensitive information was breached.[1] The Chinese government denied any responsibility. Since then, there have been multiple reports of Chinese hackers infiltrating other American news organizations, such as The Washington Post, Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal.[2] This outbreak of cyber attacks does not reflect a new method of warfare and espionage, but a growing global phenomenon beginning in the 1990s. The Department of Defense (DOD) categorizes a cyber threat as either a cyber attack or cyber espionage. A cyber attack aims to manipulate or disrupt data, while cyber espionage aims to steal data.[3] The U.S. government became aware of the depth of its vulnerability to cyber threats in 1997 through the ‘Eligible Receiver’ test run by the DOD. In this test a team of hackers were organized to infiltrate the Pentagon using only publically available computer equipment and hacking software. With these limited resources they were able to take control of the U.S. Pacific Command Center computers, power grids and 911 systems in nine major U.S. cities.[4] Despite this astonishing feat, the United States did not begin large-scale defensive precautions against cyber threats until after 9/11. Driven to action by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a group of concerned scientists wrote a...

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