Welcome to the Patterson Journal of International Affairs

The Patterson Journal is a student-run organization that strives to analyze current international affairs.

  • Patterson 2023 Spring Break Trip

    Written by Osetemega Iribiri

    Day I

    Sixteen students and Ambassador Carey Cavanagh of the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce spent three days visiting organizations in Ohio, Michigan, and Canada. The first stop on Monday, March 13, was the United States Air Force Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Students were introduced to Mr. Young, who guided them on a short tour through the IPC and explained the history of the facility, its uses, and how it had come to acquire foreign aircraft and missiles which were on display. Next, students were introduced to a panel of Patterson alumni who spoke about their roles within The National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) and National Space Intelligence Center (NSIC). Panelists discussed how the facility contributes to wartime actions, how space threats and hypersonic weapons are analyzed, and the uses of military intelligence on foreign air and space forces, as well as their day to day roles and expectations. 

    Thor Industries Factory and Manufacturing Center in Jackson Center, Ohio, was the next stop. Thor is a major producer of luxury R.V.s, generating about $8.2 billion and employing about 22,500 men and women. One unique thing about its employees is that most are also relevant in their communities as farmers, fighter fighters, and community leaders. The students observed in real time the bespoke step-by-step manufacturing of these iconic recreational vehicles that make them span about forty years. Generally, it takes the workers about 5-7 days to complete the construction of one R.V. vehicle. All R.V. vehicles are rain checked to ensure they are waterproof. This process was witnessed by the students. For thirty minutes, 10k gallons of water, approximately 23 inches of rain, were poured on the vehicle. In this process, a worker sits inside the vehicle to ensure no part leaks. If  a leak is found, it is reworked, otherwise, it proceeds to the next stage of production. The water used for the rain check is recycled.

    Day 2

    On March 14, students visited the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Detroit Tunnel and Ambassador Bridge. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers graciously allowed the students to witness operations at North America’s busiest trade border crossing. They also showed them the different technologies that enable them effectively carry out their federal tasks, such as immigration control, customs enforcement, radiological detection, drug interdiction, and smuggling prevention. In a practical session, a contraband item was planted on a student, and students formed a semi-circle while two K9s circled them. The students observed how K9 units can detect and sniff contraband items in real-time.

    Students were also briefed by the agricultural specialists at the CBP. The officers emphasized that when certain items are seized, especially gift items, it is essential to note that they are not just food but hold sentimental value to the carrier because of their cultural significance. Therefore, when confiscating them, they must show extra care and sensitivity.

    An example is this gift box. A businessman brought it into the country as a gift for his business partner. For him, it  was not just food; it  was a gift and symbol of his culture that he carefully selected.  The box was worth about $200 and was confiscated because of the presence of raw eggs within the moon pies. It is also worth noting that the CBP is also a self-funded organization.

    Later that day, students with passports/visas crossed the Canadian border and went to the International Joint Commission (IJC) Great Lakes Office in Windsor, Ontario. They were hosted by Mark Burrows , a physical scientist at the IJC. Students learned about the IJC mission, U.S.- Canadian management of Great Lakes and Boundary Waters in terms of the Great Lakes restoration, water quality, invasive species, and pressing environmental issues. 

    They then met with the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority and were hosted by VP Heather Grondin. The “Gordie Howe International Bridge” is scheduled to open in 2025 and, unlike the Ambassador Bridge, will directly connect with a highway both in the U.S. and Canada.  The overall project has an expected cost of $5.7 billion, financed entirely by the Canadian government.  This bridge will augment the privately-owned Ambassador Bridge, North America’s busiest economic border crossing, which carryies 25% of cross-border trade (400M daily). 

    Day 3

    The final day began with a visit to the Japanese Consulate at the G.M. Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan. This visit was special because it was the first time since the pandemic that the consulate has agreed to host in-person visitors. Students met with the Deputy Consular General, who shared his 33 years of experience as a diplomat. He also shared that he has barely spent two months in Michigan and was recently transferred from Barbados. The consulate currently has 9 Japanese and 21 local staff. The consulate’s jurisdiction spans both Michigan and Ohio, supporting about 900 companies and 2,400 people. He shared that his assignment usually entails meeting with other diplomats, businessmen, bureaucrats, and economists to create a win-win situation. Three other consulate staff from the public relations and political analysis units were also present. It was an interactive session, and one of the takeaways  was that language is only sometimes a barrier to such appointments. However, it is essential to have both an interest in the culture and subject matter competence. The visit ended with Ambassador Cavanagh inviting the Deputy Consular General to Kentucky and emphasizing Kentucky’s position as a hot spot for the Japanese automotive industry.

    Next was the visit to the U.S. Coast Guard/Royal Canadian Mounted Police Coast Guard Station on Belle Isle, Michigan. There, U.S. Coast Guard/Royal Canadian Mounted Police briefed the students on the U.S.-Canada “Shiprider” program. It is a program that enforces maritime law, performs counter-narcotics operations, and search & rescue operations on US-Canadian waters. It has been in operation for about 11 years and is the only one of a such bilateral agreements in the world. Before US-Canadian officers begin operating at the station, they undergo two weeks of special training in US-Canadian coastal laws. The officers, however, pointed out that in all their functions, the preservation of life is prioritized over other functions, such as arresting an offender. They highlighted that their major struggle is human smuggling. Students were also allowed to inspect the patrol boats. 

    Subsequently, the next stop was at Cass Corridor, Detroit, Michigan. Students leisurely observed two of Detroit’s renaissance; Shinola, a famous watches and bicycles manufacturer, and Jack White’s Third Man Records vinyl pressing plant (the most modern in the U.S.). These two stops were not guided tours.

    Next was the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. It is 61 years old and is the largest mosque in North America. Its founder, Imam Jawad Chirri, came from Lebanon to Michigan with the desire to propagate the Muslim faith. The mosque has subsequently been a refuge for those fleeing war-torn areas such as Lebanon, Iran, and Syria. The architecture is unique and well thought out. There is a frequency of dorm and star-shaped fittings and designs. The mosque hosts inter-faith events and is open to both Sunnis and Shias. It’s usually open from 4am  to 11pm. Every Sunday, it feeds about 250 people for free. It was also opened during the pandemic, gave about 8k vaccines, and held food drives. The mosque lights up in different colors to raise awareness, such as blue for autism and pink for cancer awareness. One unique thing about the mosque is that it is not owned by any family or heir. It is managed by a board. It was built by community effort and has been left as a place of prayer for generations. As you walk within the building, you will see the names of those who have contributed to the building and sustenance of the mosques, such as a group of women called the Bricks of Heaven.

    The last stop was a visit to the Executive Director of the America Arab Chamber of Commerce, Fey Beydoun. She charged the students to be the best at their craft and stay through to whatever big picture they have envisioned for themselves. Using herself as an example, she shared that she doesn’t just sit on boards for accolades and benefits. She joins boards and organizations because they align with her professional goals. One such goal is creating an enabling platform for US-Arab businesses to thrive in Michigan. She also shared that she had just received a grant to fund an initiative to get start-ups in Michigan up and running and would be stepping down from her position as Executive Director of the American-Arab Chamber of Commerce.

    Overall, it was a thoroughly informative and enjoyable experience. It was beneficial to see how different state, private, and public organizations work and how the things learned in the classroom play out practically. Before the students hit the road back to Lexington, they said goodbye to Michigan, purchasing ice cream, drinks, and baklava from the famous Middle Eastern shop, Shintala Bakery and Café. It was an interactive, informative, and remarkable trip. 

  • The PRC Tests its Borders in the 2023 Crisis Simulation

    Written by Ciara Perez

    March 5, 2023

    Last weekend, Patterson School students participated in the annual spring crisis simulation. This simulation differs from the fall simulation because it’s entirely designed by a Patterson alumnus. This year, the simulation revolved around the tensions between China, Taiwan, the United States, and Japan over a crisis in the Taiwan Strait. With the help of Patterson faculty mentors, University of Kentucky journalism students, and two alumni volunteers, the simulation was brought to life. Students were divided into four teams: the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Republic of China (Taiwan), Japan, and the United States. Each team was provided with the background of events leading up to the crisis as well as a set of instructions outlining the country specific objectives they were expected to meet by the conclusion of the simulation.

    The situation at the start of the crisis was that the PRC had conducted a week-long military drill around Taiwan and its territorial waters, however, 80% of Chinese vessels remained in place at the conclusion of the drill. The influx of Chinese vessels in the region sent Taiwan into a state of emergency. Three Taiwanese islands, Kinmen, Matsu, and Wuciou had also been surrounded, causing a disruption to international shipping lanes, and significantly reducing trade. Additionally, the PRC was regularly crossing into Taiwan’s territorial waters and Air Identification Zone. This sequence of events had neighboring Japan and ally United States on high. In response, Japan chose to host a high-level delegate meeting between itself, the PRC, Taiwan, and the United States. With those facts in mind and the individual objectives of each team, students engaged in negotiations to resolve the brewing crisis.

    Throughout the crisis, teams arranged negotiation sessions to discuss formal arrangements which would advance their country’s interests. Approaching each session, students were expected to understand the real-world relationship between the countries in play and act accordingly, and to use knowledge of existing agreements to foster and advocate for new ones. For example, one objective of the United States was to gain increased access to its military bases in Japan. Since Japan is an ally of the United States, this was an easy task because it was also in the security interests of Japan, should the PRC escalate things closer to their borders. Throughout the simulation, there were several arms sales agreements between the United States, Japan, and Taiwan to aid Taiwan in its self-defense measures. Many United States plays during the crisis involved moving its military to demonstrate strength and its determination to defend Taiwan. And lastly, there were several bilateral negotiations between the PRC and the three other delegations to attempt a tit-for-tat strategy so the PRC would agree to move its fleet back to the Chinese mainland. Between negotiation sessions, delegations engaged in a Twitter war, held press conferences and released statements, and conducted intelligence sharing. On top of all that, SIM Control (simulation leadership) sporadically sent out intelligence updates to each team that sometimes required swift action be taken.

    By the end of the first day, no team had succeeded in deescalating the situation and getting the PRC to back down. Instead, the day ended with the PRC having completely blockaded the three Taiwanese islands off the Chinese mainland, causing an immediate humanitarian crisis. With citizens of all nationalities living on the islands with no access to food or medications, Japan was quick to sign an agreement with the PRC to provide humanitarian aid. The second day of the crisis, the United States followed suit in sending aid. However, the humanitarian crisis was never resolved because all attempts to negotiate with the PRC proved futile as the delegation refused to back down without the United States cooperating with unreasonable requests. One such request involved the United States fully withdrawing its Seventh Fleet from the opening of the Taiwan Strait and returning it to the base in Japan, and in return the PRC agreed that it would remove some of its ships from the surrounding area. The United States didn’t find that to be an adequate trade, as it did not uphold the United States redline to protect Taiwan, and therefore the negotiations stalled.

    In sum, the crisis simulation created an environment in which students took on leadership roles, built strategic-thinking skills, and learned the art of speaking diplomatically and ambiguously. It also provided students the opportunity to better learn and understand the relations within the region, as each team was expected to encompass the mannerisms of a real delegation from their assigned country. Though the crisis did not result in an immediate solution, the teams managed to avoid open war with the PRC which meant the simulation was a success.

  • The Meridian Summit & Tackling Washington, D.C.

    This weekend, a group of Patterson students travelled to Washington, D.C. to attend the Meridian Summit at the United States Institute of Peace.  This was the first in-person Summit since COVID-19, and this year, the focus was primarily on issues facing cyberspace.  The Summit was split into two locations: the Main Stage and the Innovation Stage.  The Main Stage primarily focused on what was called “The Global Divide,” focusing on this incredible divide between those who have access to the internet and those who do not.  The Innovation Stage, however, focused on a variety of issues including inclusivity in cyber careers as well as cybersecurity. 

    Students meet with Patterson alum at a restaurant in Arlington, Virginia

    The Summit began with a presentation that illustrated this global divide—walking through more developed nations as well as LDCs (“least developed countries”).  The numbers emphasized that while a country may be “developed,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that every citizen has access to the internet, whether through a phone or through another device.  What shouldn’t be surprising, however, is how large that number became in LDCs, and this divide is further deepened when other factors like age, gender, and ethnicity are considered.  For example, in some parts of the world, women have even less of a chance to gain access to the internet. 

    To continue with this idea of The Global Divide, a panel convened to discuss what happens when the nations finally obtain access to the internet.  What stood out to me the most was this idea that while access to the internet is important, it is cybersecurity that is the key issue that shouldn’t be dismissed.  If one has access to the internet but fails to have the proper defense against cyber attacks, then would that person be more vulnerable than if he never received that access?  The answer to that question is quite simple: he would be.  Therefore, the panel emphasized this “package deal” that would need to be presented to those without internet access.  And finally, the panel addressed another key component to closing this global divide: affordability.  For someone in a LDC, affordability could be the one thing that prevents them from gaining access to the internet.  Logically, if one must choose between food for their family and paying for internet access, one would always choose to provide for their family. 

    Another interesting panel included a discussion on how governments and the private sector can work together to improve what is called “tech diplomacy.”  Tech diplomacy is essentially collective action between government and the private sector to maintain regulations and innovation in our evolving world.  Tech diplomacy not only involves expanding access to LDCs, but it also includes keeping the internet “open and free”—even in authoritarian regimes.  Moreover, we cannot discuss keeping the internet “open and free” to all people without mentioning the private sector’s responsibility in helping keep the internet affordable for all people—regardless of where they live.  The panel concluded by emphasizing the importance of tech diplomacy being at the forefront of modern diplomatic policy.

    Students toured the Lincoln Memorial

    That night, we realized a few students in our group had never visited D.C. before, so we met up with a few Patterson alum and took the metro out to the National Mall to see the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.  As we read Lincoln’s words along the walls, we were reminded of our patriotism and dedication to continue moving toward a more inclusive and equal society.

  • The South China Sea, Chinese Aggression, & Alleged Assault: The Fall Simulation

    On October 7th & 8th, the Patterson School and the Army War College participated in the annual negotiation exercise.  This exercise consisted of several countries working together to overcome issues facing the South China Sea.  The countries that participated in this simulation were the United States, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Japan. 

    The UN Special Representative Speaks to the Delegations

    The simulation began as confronting Chinese aggression in the region.  China, contrary to international law, claimed the Paracel and Spratly Islands as their own, which caused tensions among its neighbors.  China’s neighbors heavily relied upon countries residing outside the South China Sea—the United States and Japan—to counter China’s aggression, and as a result, the United States was able to draft a massive multilateral agreement on principle that included intertwining of the economies, planning of joint military exercises, establishing an exclusion zone around the contested islands, and affirming that any and all contested claims to the islands would be settled within the ASEAN coalition at a future date.

    Team Malaysia Discusses Strategy

    The United States realized its role was to simply push back against China’s agenda in the South China Sea while enforcing international law and the freedom of navigation, and the United States utilized its relationship with the smaller Asian nations to do so.  As a result, the United States was able to not only address each nation’s concerns relating to China, but the United States was also able to establish further economic and military ties that resulted in less reliance on the Chinese. 

    Of course, the Chinese delegation did everything it could to prevent this multilateral agreement from forming, and perhaps their most clever strategy was setting up meetings with all delegations with the intention of not following through on any of the planned outcomes arising from these meetings.  For example, in its second meeting with the United States, China proposed a “green deal,” which included details on tackling climate change and global warming.  When asked how China could propose such an agreement given China was the number one polluter in the world, China could not provide an adequate response—indicating China’s intention of simply stalling the multilateral agreement.  The United States used this discovery against the Chinese delegation and pressed into the multilateral agreement by informing the smaller Asian nations of China’s true intentions: to prevent progress from taking place at this Summit and continue its aggression in the South China Sea.  Ultimately, the Chinese delegation’s tactic failed as the United States was able to secure the multilateral agreement within the last hour of the simulation.  Once all nations involved signed the agreement, the United States had achieved its overall goal: to push China back from its illegal claims and unfounded aggression. 

    (From left to right) Heads of Delegation from the United States, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Japan, and Vietnam Meet to Discuss the Multilateral Agreement on Principle that Counters Chinese Aggression in the South China Sea

    When the United States finally personally presented this multilateral agreement to China, the two Heads of Delegation met one-on-one in the presence of three mentors.  The United States intended for the meeting to be short—simply layout the foundations of the four-part agreement and to inform China that the United States would working with the other Asian nations to counter China’s objectives.  However, the United States and China quickly found themselves in a shouting match that resulted in the Head of the United States’ delegation enforcing his position by shoving his finger into the Head of the Chinese delegation’s shoulder.  As he did so, the Head of the United States’ delegation stated that this was the future China should have foreseen and that China needed to face the consequences of its actions.  Shortly after the encounter, the Head of the Chinese delegation walked through the halls, shouting that the United States had assaulted the Chinese delegation.  The Head of the Chinese delegation filed a complaint to the United Nations, and the United Nations Special Representative met individually with both Heads as part of his investigation into the incident.  However, with these meetings falling so close to the end of the simulation, the UN Special Representative did not formally reprimand the quarreling Heads.

    The simulation officially ended when the Heads of each delegation gave their closing remarks.  Because every country apart from China had agreed to the multilateral agreement on principle, their closing remarks were quite similar and spoke of immense cooperation with the United States and Japan.  China, however, did not echo that sentiment.  The Head of the Chinese delegation, in a homemade sling to emphasize the alleged assault, gave his closing remarks, and his remarks reflected a sense of betrayal from its neighbors as well as open hostility to the United States.  Despite China’s attempt to gain favor from its neighbors, the United States and other Asian nations enforced international law and illustrated a united front against China and its aggression in the region.

    In essence, the goal of the simulation was to resolve the dispute diplomatically, and while tensions rose over the two days, students were able to work together to form firm, yet reasonable, solutions facing the South China Sea.

  • Saudi Arabia Requests Meeting Over Syria’s Return to the Arab League

    April 16, 2023 written by Bushra Bani-Salman

    The Arab League had suspended Syria’s membership to the Arab League after the Bashar Al-Assad government’s violent suppression of pro-democracy movements in 2011. Arab diplomacy talks are back to work with Syria to discuss the possibility of Syria’s return to the Arab League, as well as normalizing relations in general.

    The Syrian civil war resulted in the deaths of over 500,000 people and forced around half of the Syrian population out of their homes. After 12 years of civil war in Syria, Saudi Arabia has requested ministers and top officials from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan to meet on the issue. Arab countries had shunned Al-Assad, but Saudi Arabia has now reconsidered due to rapprochement with Iran, Syria’s regional ally.

    On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is facing pushback from key allies. At least five Arab League members refused to readmit Syria. One being Qatar, the state’s prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani said in a television interview that “nothing is proposed and it is all speculation”. 

    In the same week, Saudi Arabia and Yemen had an exchange of around 900 political prisoners. Saudi ambassador to Yemen held talks with Iran-backed Houthi rebels to end Yemen’s civil war that has taken place since the Saudi-led military intervention in 2015. The prisoner swap is the first of many prospective efforts to end the war in Yemen.

  • NATO Member, Finland, Builds Fence on Border with Russia

    April 16, 2023 written by Ash Breedlove

    Finland officially joined NATO on April 4, 2023. NATO Allies previously signed Finland’s Accession Protocol back in July of 2022. NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Finland to the alliance, touting its joining as important to both Nordic security and the alliance as a whole. Finland is the 31st member of NATO.

    On April 15th, Finland broke ground on a new Russian border fence. This fence, meant to lessen illegal migration from Russia, is near the town of Imatra in southwest Finland. As of yesterday, 1.8 miles of fence has been completed. As a newly inducted member of NATO, Finland is working towards shaking off Russian influence. Back in 2015-2016, Russia sent large numbers of asylum-seekers to northern crossing points in Finland. These asylum-seekers, mainly from Middle East nations, were sent by Moscow in order to influence Finland. Finland and Russia came to a settlement; however, this new fence will help prevent such an issue from repeating.

  • Sudanese Military and Paramilitary Forces at Loggerheads

    April 16, 2023 written by Osetemega Iribiri

    Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan of Sudan’s military force and Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, widely known as Hemedti,  of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), have been unable to come together to integrate both forces, thus leading to violent clashes in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital city. The pro-democracy Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors reported that the violent conflict has left twenty-five civilians dead and others injured.

    Following a substantial civilian uprising, the two leaders helped depose former long-time Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. After that, the military and the RSF staged a second coup, took over in October 2021, and agreed to hold power jointly, but tensions between the military leadership and the paramilitary force have increased in recent months.

    In December 2022, the two forces agreed to hand power back to a civilian-led government this month. The plan has been sabotaged by tensions between the army and RSF over who should lead and become the de facto head of state before elections. It escalated after both forces disagreed on restructuring the military. Their agreement is vital to allow for elections that would bring the country back on a civilian track after years of turmoil. On Thursday, a top army general accused the RSF of deploying forces nationwide without the army’s consent, warning of potential clashes. The paramilitary force, which had deployed troops near the northern town of Merowe, some 330 kilometers (186 miles) north of Khartoum, defended the presence of its forces. In a statement later, the military said it was in control of the RSF’s Merowe base, adding that paramilitaries had fled.

    Fighting erupted early Saturday morning at a military base in Khartoum and quickly spread to the presidential palace, the international airport, and the headquarters of the state broadcaster. Video footage circulating online shows smoke billowing from the Khartoum airport, shotting in the streets and people taking cover inside. Consequently, flights to and fro Khartoum are halted. Embassies such as the US and UK have also advised their staff to take shelter while the situation is being closely monitored. As of Saturday evening, it was unclear who was in control of the country, and it appeared that the fighting had spread to other parts of Sudan, including parts of the remote Darfur region.

  • Egypt’s unfortunate trajectory

    April 10, 2023 Written by Jesse Moore

    As I’ve described before, Egypt could be doing better. The turbulence of Covid-19, the war in Ukraine’s effect on food and energy prices, and the long-running mismanagement of the country all contribute to Cairo’s woes. While the government secured a $3 billion IMF loan, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is courting Gulf countries for more financing.

    Gulf countries have long been financiers of Cairo since El-Sisi seized power in 2013, but now they seek better terms for their investments. The countries have several conditions: they want Egypt to devalue its currency, which would make Gulf investments more lucrative; they have asked Egypt’s military to decrease its  sizable involvement in the economy; and they want better financial stewardship over Egypt’s finances. 

    The opening of an extravagant mosque in Egypt’s  new desert capital illustrates the poor decision-making of the country’s leaders. The Grand Mosque, part of the country’s new Islamic Cultural Centre, is the second-largest mosque on the continent and can hold over one hundred thousand worshippers.

  • Anti-Defamation or Anti-Democratic in India

    April 10, 2023 Written by Allan Willard

    Why do all thieves have Modi as their surname?” These were the words uttered by Rahul Gandhi in 2019 that set off a defamation case that could see him imprisoned for up to two years. Gandhi is the descendent of three former Indian Prime Ministers and was a pivotal leader in the Indian National Congress, which is currently the largest opposition party to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Members of Parliament lose their seats if they are convicted of a crime and sentenced to two or more years, and as a court has already found Gandhi guilty of defamation, he has lost his parliamentary seat. Despite this, Gandhi is not currently in jail but on bail for 30 days while he files an appeal against the verdict.

    As Gandhi is expected to challenge Modi in the 2024 elections, the debate surrounding the case is fierce. For some opposition members and allies of Gandhi, the ruling is just further proof of Modi’s autocratic intentions. They have staged parliamentary and street protests in opposition to it. For Purnesh Modi, a member of the BJP who filed the defamation case, the comment “defamed the entire Modi community.” Modi is a common last name in the western Indian state of Gujarat, and Gandhi named the controversial Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speech.

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