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Vincent Huston

Vincent Huston is a student in Human Environment at Concordia University.

How to press reset between NATO and Russia?

In 2014, the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine led to a serious breakdown in the trust between NATO and Russia; an escalation in tensions followed. Russian military presence alongside various rebel groups within Ukraine repeatedly made headlines, and led to many casualties in both the regions of Crimea and Donbass. Russia’s motives can be linked to the presence of its naval base in the Crimean city of Sevastopol which harbours its Black Sea fleet. In addition to this, there are important oil and gas reserves in the area as well as a population that sees itself as being more a part of Russia than Ukraine. Today, many NATO countries including Poland and the Baltic States have condemned growing Russian aggression, and concerns over human rights violations are constantly growing. The Baltic States have asked for support in order to defend themselves from potential threats. In fact, the United States plans to send 4,000 troops to the region along with a heavy infantry brigade in the upcoming year. In addition, NATO has held exercises in the region that have brought in over 10,000 troops. The Kremlin sees the NATO build up on the Russian frontier as a provocation. With the current setup, the relationship with Russia must be reset. Ways must be found to cooperate in order to counter shared threats such as Islamic terrorism and organized crime. [I]t is not strategically viable for NATO to put an emphasis on military within the region, as many of those countries are still largely dependent on Russia for resources. The development of a good relationship is important so that there are no electricity and natural gas shortages. The key to developing a mutual sense of trust is to build a relationship from common interests. In prior times, this has been done through the… Read More

Donald Trump’s Impact on the Migrant Crisis

  After Donald Trump’s somewhat surprising victory in the 2016 presidential election, there was a lot of anxiety in regards to the potential impact his presidency would have. With a large portion of the senate controlled by republicans along with many controversial political figures representing it, the world wondered if the president-elect’s most divisive campaign promises would really be implemented. On the 25th of January, Donald Trump signed the immigration executive order for the construction of a wall separating Mexico from the United States. In addition, 10 000 additional immigration officers would be hired and sanctions could be implemented on sanctuary cities unwilling to take a harsher stance on illegal immigration. In the following days, the executive order "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States" was signed by the president. This order means that all non-Americans from seven identified countries (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen and Syria) would not be allowed to enter the country. The US administration believes that this order will help prevent the entry of radical Islamic terrorists. Its conception drew upon the “visa waiver program” requirements for people that visited these countries. It would have forced them to have a visa in order to enter the country. Donald Trump’s recent ban on several countries has led to the detaining of hundreds of people in American airports. Many non-Americans hoping to come back to the United-States for school or work are stranded abroad as their visas aren’t valid for a period of 90 to 120 days. —————— More from the PAH: Max Aitken and the limits of unidirectional power by Neil Cameron Leitch: I do have 22 letters at the end of my name, I’m not an idiot by PAH Staff Corporate Donations & US Elections by Vincent Huston —————— In… Read More

INFLUENCE – Corporate Donations & US Elections

In an age where there is a greater demand for transparency from politicians, the influence that money can have on election campaigns is constantly being put into question by the general population. This is especially true if you consider that the 2012 and 2016 American elections led to a record amount of donations which were mostly received through political action committees (PACs) which have no restrictions on the money that they can take in. These committees usually release information in regards to donations through the Federal election commission (FEC) but there are also different fundraising groups which allow donors to remain anonymous. They consist of limited liability companies (LLCs) and politically active non-profits who under the tax code, don’t have to disclose any information in regards to donors. This was enabled from a Supreme Court decision in 2010 allowing large companies and non-profits to run ads that support or go against a federal candidate. Hence, this may allow them to exert some kind of influence on the outcome of federal elections. One of the main issues surrounding private donations is that the general population does not have the information required to properly support a candidate that aligns with their personal beliefs. For example, certain population members may be turned off by a certain candidate if they receive donations from controversial groups such as fracking companies or other corporations which have a poor track record in regards to protecting the environment. This then shows that people are exempt from using their critical thinking in order to get a better idea of what certain candidates stand for. In addition, whenever there are issues or complaints in regards to funds transferred through limited liability companies, very little is done to hold donors accountable. It took the federal election commission five years to come… Read More

Domestic Challenges Facing Saudi Arabia

Ever since the discovery of its oil reserves in 1938, Saudi Arabia has been building its way towards becoming a global superpower. Currently, they export 19% of the world’s oil, the most out of any other country.   This element combined with the fact that worldwide oil prices are now on the decline means that Saudi Arabia finds itself in a difficult situation as 90% of its economy relies on this precious resource. With that in mind, the country’s social, cultural and political climate greatly contrast that of other industrialized nations making it quite difficult for rapid change to occur. This situation is highlighted by the state’s control over all oil related production and stringent business regulations which makes it difficult for the private sector to develop.   The issues mentioned above are partially linked to strict cultural norms that are deeply engrained within the social fabric of the general population. Firstly, only about 40% of Saudi Arabians have jobs. In the country, opportunities stem from relations between friends and relatives, just like in many other non-western cultures. This contrasts greatly from the situation in industrialized nations. Secondly, a typical workweek starts on a Sunday; workdays are much shorter and contain many more breaks in order for Saudis to perform their daily prayers. This workweek can be quite problematic since they cannot realistically compete with the longer workdays of other markets.   Another important issue is in regards to the divide between men and women as a very small percentage of the former work. On top of that, service sector employment is frowned upon since it does not conform to upheld cultural norms. Lastly, private companies who hire locals find themselves to be quite disappointed with the results. This is because the local population lacks the required technical skills and… Read More

Venezuela’s Downfall

    As the waiting lines become longer and inflation rises, the Venezuelan population is left in a precarious state. There is a great shortage of food, and of vital supplies in healthcare. Little people can find work as businesses don’t have the financial resources required to properly function. This dire situation stems from almost two decades of socialist policies while neglecting economic sustainability in the long-run. The signs of a Venezuelan downfall most certainly appeared throughout Hugo Chavez’s 13-year tenure, but the real turmoil only started in 2013 once Nicolas Maduro took over as president. So far, he has continued with the same policies as his predecessor to the detriment of a population scrambling to find basic necessities. To understand how the country got to this point, it is important to highlight that the presidency of Hugo Chavez was seen as godsend for the population of Venezuela. During the 1980’s and early 1990’s, the country had experienced years of minimal economic growth. This led to violent uprisings and two coup attempts as the government tried to silence socialist and communist groups along with many other dissident voices. The reason for this state of revolt stems from the 1980’s oil crisis and economic policy adjustments imposed by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) which at its worst forced the country to give up 50% of its earnings from exports. These policies were greatly derived from the neo-liberal spirit of the time, which put the country in a state of poverty. After winning the election in 1998 with 57 % of the popular vote, Chavez quickly made his mark by expropriating many private corporations and raising the price of oil. At the time, this led to a rise in profits which were largely spent on social programs to support the population living… Read More