Political Commentary: The Debt is No Reason to Panic


Brian Murphy, Staff

The United States is currently $31.4 trillion dollars in debt. This is a terrifyingly large number, but there is no reason to worry. The debt and deficit conversation are more political issues than economical.

Each year, the federal government is responsible for setting a budget. Simply, this budget is agreed upon and states where the government will be spending its money, and where the sources of it are. Since 1998, the government budget has not taken in more money than it spends (called a surplus). Yes, that means for the last 25 years, the United States government has been spending more money that it receives (a deficit), and the summation of these deficits is what is known as the debt.

When the government spends more than it takes in, it needs to borrow money to finance the extra spending. The US government does this through selling securities, commonly treasury bonds. These bonds can be purchased by anyone: citizens, businesses or foreign governments.

With the debt growing each year, there is no reason to panic. The United States has monetary sovereignty, or full control, over its currency. The US can print money to do anything it needs to finance. Think about the stimulus checks. The government did not tax you extra to fund this spending. The Federal Reserve simply decided it was going to fund the checks and printed more money to cover the costs. This too can happen to cover its debt. If the US government one day decided to pay off the debt, it could with the click of a button. All the Federal Reserve would have to do is increase the money, and transfer money to all of the debt holders. Additionally, the United States doesn’t even need to borrow money in the first place. The Federal Reserve could just decide to fund this money if it wants to. 

The reason this is all possible is because the US is monetary sovereign. If the United States used the Euro, for example, they could not simply just increase the supply of Euros, since the US Government does not control the Euro. The debt would be a potential issue if this was the case.

So, why doesn’t the United States just pay off the debt? Simply, there is no reason to. Further, there is a potential for inflation if they were to do this. So, the United States continues to practice the same policy of borrowing. 

The debt is a hot topic each year in Congress, but it is never a reason to panic. It is used for politics. Used to push agendas. The economics of debt is simple, and the United States is safe.

US Contractor Killed in Syria

international politics, Politics

Elizabeth Boyle , Staff

Five American Service members were wounded and a US contractor was killed in Syria on a coalition base near Hasakah, Syria by an Iranian-made missile on Thursday, March 23. The US military and supporting contractors have been directly involved in Syria since 2015 when they entered the country to help the Syrians fight against ISIS. Currently, there is more than 900 US personnel there.

Pete Marovich, The New York Times

The attack came from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, led by Ayatollah Ali Khameneior groups affiliated with them. This was not the only attack from them over the last few months. They have hit various targets across the Middle East. There have been 78 attacks since January of 2021 and all are speculated to be from Iran or organizations supported by Iran. Iran has denied the previous attacks on US facilities, and they have not publicly acknowledged the attacks from Thursday.

John Kirby the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs said, “It’s pretty clear to us and to the intelligence community and to the Pentagon that this was an Iranian one-way drone attack. We’ve been able to identify that with certainty.” The US responded quickly with “precision attacks” into eastern Syria that were approved by President Biden. General Michael Kurilla, the commander of US Central Command, reported that the US was explicitly responding to the attacks on facilities housing US service members. Kurilla expressed his concern for Iranian drones. He stated that they are being used by Russia in the War against Ukraine currently. Kurilla says, “The Iranian regime now holds the largest and most capable unmanned aerial vehicles force in the region.” 

Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon’s press spokesman, in an interview about the US response to the attacks stated, “The [US] priority in Syria is on the defeat of ISIS mission and that will remain our focus. We do not seek conflict with Iran. We do not seek escalation with Iran. But the strikes that we took last night were intended to send a very clear message that we will take the protection of our personnel seriously and we will respond quickly and decisively if they are threatened.” Ryder also stated that the US attacks were based on multiple attacks from Iran against coalition forces in Syria that are associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. 

The Syrian humanitarian group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, is based out of London and was upset with the US response to the attacks. They stated that the US response strikes killed eleven people on the ground. They believe that 6 people were near the Harabesh neighborhoods, three more in the town of Boukamal, and two near the town of Mayadeen. These reports have not been confirmed.

Military specialists are worried about the conflict escalating. In addition to the use of Iranian drones by Russia to fire missiles at Ukraine, Russia has been flying planes into Syrian airspace. This is violating an agreement made four years ago. These attacks also happened at a poor time for Saudi Arabia as they were discussing with Iran the possibility of reopening their embassies.

Putin Attempts to Use Strategic Arms Pact to Erode NATO Support for Ukraine

international politics, Politics

Elizabeth Boyle, Staff

On Tues., Feb. 21. Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his State of the Union address to the Russian National Assembly. The alarming news for the Western world is that Putin announced Russia would be pulling out of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) nuclear arms pact. Putin stated that “[the West] wants to inflict a strategic defeat on us and claim our nuclear facilities… In this regard, I am forced to state that Russia is suspending its participation in the strategic offensive arms treaty.”

Sergei Bobylyob | AFP/Getty Images

Strategic Arms Reduction agreements between the US and Russia (or its predecessor state, the Soviet Union) has a tumultuous history. The original START nuclear arms treaty between the US and the Soviet Union was effective between December 1994 and December 2009. This treaty limited each country to deploying 6,000 nuclear warheads and 1,600 intercontinental ballistic missiles and bombers, also known as Strategic Nuclear Delivery Vehicles. A New START treaty, also referred to as START II, was put in place in January 1993 and formalized the agreement as applying to the US and the Russian Federation, which succeeded the Soviet Union. In Mar. 2002, US President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty which set a Dec. 2012 deadline for each country to reduce their stockpiles of strategic nuclear warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads. In 2010, as the original START was lapsing, the US and Russia agreed to a treaty called New START, that would limit each side to 1,550 deployed strategic warheads on up to 800 strategic nuclear delivery vehicles (deployed and nondeployed). All variations of Strategic Arms Reduction pacts allow both countries to visit and inspect each other’s weapons sites.

In Feb.of 2021, the US and Russia agreed to extend the New START treaty until 2026. This is why Putin’s announcement came as a shock. Additionally, weapons site inspections had been halted since 2020 due the limitations on travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his speech Putin stated that the decision to stop cooperation with the New START treaty is reversible. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the Russia is not completely pulling out of the treaty but they will refuse to cooperation with the treaty until “Washington must show political will, make conscientious efforts for a general de-escalation and create conditions for the resumption of the full functioning of the Treaty and, accordingly, comprehensively ensuring its viability.”

Many Western countries have spoken out about Putin’s decision. US secretary of state Anthony Blinken said Putin’s decision is “deeply unfortunate and irresponsible.” Blinken said that the Biden Administration is open to speak with Russia about Putin’s decision. A representative and spokesperson for the British Prime minister Rishi Sunak said that England hopes Putin will “reconsider his rash decision.” British newspaper The Economist called Putin’s decision “both predictable and reckless.”

Putin’s decision about the New START action is an expression of his anger at NATO siding with Ukraine during his ongoing “Special Military Operation.” Putin also strategically timed his State of the Union address to coincide with news that Russia may be wearing down Ukrainian troops in and around the city of Bakhmut and may be close to taking over the city. There is speculation that Putin is gaining confidence as he believes Russia is using its numerical advantages in soldiers and weapons systems, as well as its ability to conduct operations from up-to-now safe Russian territory to finally wear down the Ukraine military and population. CIA Director William Burns stated, “I think Putin is, right now, entirely too confident of his ability to wear down Ukraine.”

There appears little diminution in NATO support for Ukraine after Putin’s strategic move. Most western observers believe he is attempting to leverage western fear of Russia using a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine to erode NATO support, but in the short term he will be unsuccessful. Western analysts concede, however, that an authoritarian leader, such as Putin, can often play a waiting game with western democracies who may grow tired of funding a military enterprise that appears to have no near-term resolution.

One year of the war in Ukraine, President Biden visits Kyiv

international politics, Politics


Elizabeth Boyle, staff

It has been almost a year since Russia Invaded Ukraine, and the war is still raging on. The annual Munich Security Conference took place from Feb. 17 to 19 at the Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich Germany. The war in Ukraine was the main topic of the event. Vice President Kamala Harris attended and used her speech to talk about Russian war crimes in Ukraine.  China’s top diplomat, the Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, spoke out with concern for the war. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke, as well, asking the western countries to send more weapons to Ukraine. Although Russia was the main topic of discussion Russian representatives were not invited.

Vice President Harris condemned Russia’s actions in Ukraine calling them “crimes against Humanity.”Harris stated that “justice must be served,” and those at fault must be held responsible. Harris’s statement is pushing the condemnation of Russian actions a step further than just war crimes by calling them “crimes against humanity.” Harris went into detail by saying, “Let us be clear: Russian forces have pursued a widespread and systemic attack against the civilian population – gruesome acts of murder, torture, rape, and deportation. Execution-style killings, beating, and electrocution.” Harris said that supporting Ukraine and speaking out against Russia’s violent acts and pushing for justice to be served is “[in the US’s] moral interests.” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke as well stating that Russia is hurting its own citizens with the war it started. 

In response to Harris’s comments, the Russian Ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, claimed that the US is working to “demonize” Russia. Russia continues to deny claims of attacking civilians and claims that the gruesome acts Harris mentioned in her speech were committed by Ukrainian forces against their own people to harm Russia’s reputation.

Chinese diplomat Wang Yi spoke saying that China was concerned about the “long-term effect of this war” and claimed that it was in the interest of all parties that peace talks should be seen in the near future. He also reiterated President of China Xi Jinping’s condemning any nation that threatens nuclear violence. The US State Department responded to China by warning that if China helped Moscow with military material it would result in sanctions or worse. The US still fears the Chinese invasion of Taiwan if the relationship with China and Russia continues to grow.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy joined the conference by video call and urged the Western leaders to act instead of talk. He once again said Ukraine is in need of weapons as soon as possible. Ukraine doesn’t have the time to wait months. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen responded to Zelenskyy by stating that European countries must work quickly to produce and distribute weapons to Ukraine.

Although no Russians were in attendance, prominent critics of the Kremlin were invited such as Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of jailed politician Alexey Navalny, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an exiled businessman, and opposition activist.

In light of this recent conference, President Biden visited Ukraine on Monday, Feb. 20. This was President Biden’s first visit to Ukraine since the war began. Biden assured Zelenskiy that military assistance is on the way and that the US will be implementing more sanctions against Russia. This is a rare occasion for a US president to visit an active war zone when there is not a large presence of US military personnel. Biden said he risked the dangerous travel because he wanted to declare “unwavering” support for Ukraine and spread the message that “Putin’s war of conquest is failing.”

State of the Union Frames 2024 Election

national politics, Politics

Elizabeth Boyle, Staff 

This past week, President Biden gave the annual State of the Union address. The Speech is given in front of all of Congress. In the speech, the current President will address the state of the country, talk about the administration’s accomplishments of the past year, and speak about his upcoming plans for the next year. On Feb. 7 President Joe Biden gave his second State of the Union address and three important points he talked about were bipartisanship, the economy, and healthcare.

            Biden talked about wanting the Democrats and Republicans in Congress to work together. After the historic election of Kevin McCarthy to Speaker of the House, which took 5 days and 15 rounds of voting, Biden repetitively mentioned that he wants to continue to work with this new Congress as it starts a new chapter with McCarthy as Speaker of the House. Biden emphasized that his administration was working to end the zero-sum political game by saying, “and, in fact, I signed over 300 bipartisan pieces of legislation since becoming President, from authorizing the Violence Against Women Act to the Electoral Count Reform Act.” Biden continued “And to my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last congress, there is no reason we can’t work together and find consensus on important thing in this congress as well.”  

            President Biden talked about the economy and the historically low unemployment rate. He started off by talking about the importance of the middle class in America. He said, “that’s always been my vision of our country, and I know it’s many of yours: to restore the should of this nation; to rebuild the backbone of America, America’s middle class; and to unite the country.” Biden said that working to fix the economy is a large reason why he ran for President. He explained, “[He wanted] to make sure the economy works for everyone so we can all feel that pride in what we do.” Biden went on to talk about his administration’s employment record and his future plans to improve the economy. Biden said, “We’re not finished yet, by any stretch of the imagination. But the unemployment rate is at 3.4 percent – a 50-year low.” He referred to the inflation and high gas prices and supply chain shortages, vowing that it cannot happen again which was why he proposed and passed the CHIPS and Science Act that has “already created 800,000 new manufacturing jobs.” 

            Biden talked about how his efforts to improve the economy are also a push for improved healthcare prices. He stated, “With the Inflation Reduction Act that I signed into law, we’re taking on a powerful interest to bring healthcare costs down so you can sleep better at night with more security. Biden says he will be working over the next year to bring down the prices of prescriptions in the US. He says, “We pay more for prescription drugs than any major nation on Earth.” Biden used insulin as an example saying that under Medicare, insulin prices will have a price cap of $35 per month for seniors. Biden emphasized his priority of making sure everyone is able to get the healthcare and prescriptions they need at an affordable price. 

Based on the State of the Union address it looks as though in the next year the American public will be seeing some increased efforts to bring down inflation which could include some adjustments to the tax code. Many viewers saw the State of the Union address as a signal of President Biden’s campaign strategy should he decide to run for a second term. In particular, Biden tried to draw a distinction between Democrats and Republicans concerning the handling of Medicare and Social Security. His claim that Republicans want to end/or limit both entitlement programs for seniors was met with jeers by the Republicans in the House chamber. Biden used the verbal outrage expressed by Republicans to claim that it looked like both programs would therefore remain untouched since both parties agreed on their ultimate importance. That was a rhetorical moment for the crowds watching on TV that was belied by the President’s actions on subsequent days when he claimed Republicans want to “sunset,” i.e., place an end date on Medicare and Social Security. The race for the 2024 Presidential election may have started at the State of the Union.

NATO Expansion Hits a Speed Bump

international politics, Politics

Elizabeth Boyle, Staff 

The Northern Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s once positive and unifying rule of the unanimous vote is now being manipulated to prevent Sweden and Finland from gaining NATO membership. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voting down the admittance of Sweden and Finland has caused other member states to pick sides and show their support. 

NATO was created after World War II in the hope to prevent another world war. According to the US Department of Defense, there are 5 regulations that must be met to join NATO. The country must be a democracy, members must be actively moving towards a market economy, national military forces must be under civilian control, nations must be good neighbors to those on their border and nations must work towards compatibility with NATO forces. 

Turkey has voted against Sweden and Finland’s acceptance into NATO. Finland and Sweden petitioned to join NATO in May of 2022 after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. At that time, Erdogan placed conditions on the US in order for him to give his approval of Finland and Sweden’s membership. Erdogan wants the US military to stop arming and funding the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People’s Defense Units (YPG) in Syria. Experts have commented that Erdogan has a legitimate security concern about Syria but trying to force the US into abiding by his wishes by attempting to punish Sweden and Finland is not the correct course of action.

NATO is extremely concerned by Erdogan’s actions because of Putin in Ukraine. NATO has worked hard to show a unified front and Erdogan could disrupt that. If Turkey is angered by NATO or prospective NATO entrants, it could choose to launch a military attack into northern Syria against the Kurdish people who were crucial in helping the US defeat the Islamic State in various battles. Although Turkey has helped Ukraine by supplying some drones used to attack Russian forces, it has also increased trade with Russia and welcomed almost 5 million Russian refugees. This leaves room for doubt about Erdogan’s intentions.

The reaction to Turkey’s vote has caused concern for tension on the pact between Sweden and Finland. The two countries originally agreed they would join NATO to ensure the two countries’ safety and continued alliance. When petitioning for NATO membership, Sweden and Finland signed an agreement in June 2022 stating that they would take action against terrorist organizations such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which are aligned with Turkey. Turkey has stated it believes Finland has fulfilled its obligation of acting against the PKK and FETO but Sweden has not. Erdogan’s reasoning is that during a protest in Stockholm, the Swedish Government allowed the burning of the Quran, the religious book of Islam, offending Turkish citizens who are majority Muslims. 

This dispute has pushed speculation that Finland is considering joining NATO without Sweden. However, on Thursday, Feb. 2 the Prime Ministers of Finland and Sweden held a press conference announcing, “I think it’s very important that we send today a clear message: Finland and Sweden applied together and it is in everybody’s interest that we will join together in NATO” said Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

Sweden responded to Turkey’s vote by broadening its anti-terror laws and announced the change at the press conference. The Swedish Justice Minister talked about the new laws stating, “It’s a broader criminalization, targeting a large number of activities within a terrorist organization that is not concretely connected to a particular terrorist crime.”

The US has also responded to Turkey’s recalcitrance by postponing the sale of F-16 fighter jets that were supposed to be sold to Turkey. Congress wrote a letter stating they “cannot consider future support for [Turkey until] completing the ratification of the accession protocols.” They explained, “Failure to ratify protocols or present a timeline for ratification threatens the alliance’s unity at the moment in history, as Russia continues its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.” Congress further wrote, “A productive and mutually beneficial bilateral security relationship with [Turkey] is in the interest of the United States, and we are awaiting the government’s ratification of NATO accession protocols for Sweden and Finland.” The US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken “reiterated US support for Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO accession.”

Russia Retreats from Kherson

international politics, Politics

Elizabeth Boyle, Staff

Another retreat by the Russian military, this time from Kherson. This past week Russian troops were ordered to evacuate from Kherson. Kherson is a port city located where the Dnipro River meets the Black Sea, and it was a central focus in Russia’s attempt to control the southern coast of Ukraine.

When Russia initially assaulted and captured Kherson it tried to assimilate the people into its sphere. But the Ukrainians of Kherson fought back and would not accept Russia’s efforts to strip the city and region of Ukrainian language, currency, and education. When Russia claimed to “annex” parts of Ukraine including Kherson, after a sham election, the citizens of Kherson stood defiant. This past week as Russian troops evacuated and Ukrainian soldiers entered the city the people of Kherson celebrated their return to Ukrainian control. One townsman reported to a New York Times reporter on scene, “people walk on the streets and congratulate each other, it’s just a holiday!”

There are a few schools of thought forming over Russia’s retreat. Some believe that Russia is moving to regroup and reposition its soldiers before the incoming winter, and in doing so avoid personnel and equipment losses from Ukrainian attacks and its own inability to adequately sustain forces over an extended battlefield. By moving its troops to the eastern side of the Dnipro River which borders Kherson, Russia is attempting to improve the survival odds for its troops using the river as a defensive barrier. 

President Biden spoke about the Russian retreat during a Press conference on Nov. 9 when he also answered questions about the midterm elections. Biden seemed to insinuate that the timing of the Russian retreat was linked to the US midterm elections. He pointed out that he thought it was interesting that Russia waited until after the US congressional election was complete to announce the retreat. Biden said, “it’s evidence of the fact that they have some real problems with the Russian military. 

In addition to this retreat, Russia is having problems on the home front. Hundreds of thousands of men have fled the country to avoid the draft. As of Nov. 4 the Kremlin reported over 700,000 men had left in approximately two weeks. Many believe Russian President Putin’s announcements that new military conscripts will not be sent to the vicinity of Kherson and that college students would be exempt from the military mobilization are an effort to deflect some criticism of the Russian military’s ongoing failures. Despite the tensions in Russia Putin has still managed to fill his military personnel quota to sustain his so called “special military operation” in Ukraine. Putin spoke to the media in early November saying that “mobilization is complete.” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also claimed that Putin’s goal of calling up 300,000 reservists had been achieved. However, as Ukraine continues to push back, a portion of the Russian public and military are not happy. 

To show his support for ongoing Ukrainian military advances and to celebrate the liberation of Kherson, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Kherson on Monday, Nov.14. Zelenskyy commented that he believes this (i.e., the liberation of Kherson) is the “Beginning of the end of the war.” Zelenskyy continued, “Ukraine was ready for peace, but peace for all of our country, all of our territory.…That is why we’re fighting against Russian aggression.” Now that the Ukrainian flag once again flies over Kherson and Zelenskyy has visited to celebrate the Russian retreat, morale is high in southern Ukraine. Zelenskyy’s presence continues to be motivating to Ukrainian citizens. He is a symbol of the resilience and courage of Ukraine as demonstrated in Kherson when Russia was firing missiles at entrenched troops less than a mile away.  

North and South Korea Exchange Missiles Over Naval Dispute

international politics, Politics

Elizabeth Boyle, Staff

         On Monday, Oct. 23, missiles were fired by North and South Korea. The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said that they fired in response to North Korea’s recent and continual missile testing. South Korea also reported a North Korean merchant ship entered South Korean waters on Monday.  Concurrently North Korea fired ten rounds of artillery shells as a warning to South Korea, because North Korea claims a South Korean Navy ship entered into North Korean waters on Monday.

         Vice President Kamala Harris spoke out about the ongoing missile firing by North Korea and expressed the U.S.’s support for South Korea. Harris said, “I talked with the President about it, and it is clearly a provocation, and it is meant, we believe, to destabilize the region and we are taking it seriously, and everyone should.” She continued, “It is destabilizing the region and that is one of the reasons why the visit that I have made to Korea, to the Republic of Korea, is important because it is a statement about the strength of our alliance and our dedication, The United States’ dedication to the alliance in terms of security, prosperity, stability.”

         This conflict arose over the Yellow Sea to the west coast of the Korean peninsula. Since the Korean partition in 1945 there have been many disputes in and around the area. Technically, North and South Korea are still at war and tensions remain strong. In 2010 there were two attacks on Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea and 50 South Koreans were killed.

         The U.S. has military personnel stationed all over the world, including in South Korea. South Korea and the U.S. conduct regular military training exercises and do missile testing to deter North Korea. North Korea states that it does not see joint South Korean and American military cooperation and exercises as a drill. North Korea believes that the two counties are working together to practice a potential invasion of North Korea.

For its part North Korea does very little to dissuade the US and South Korea from continuing their close cooperation. CBS News reported that, as of Oct.23, North Korea had conducted 24 missile tests in 2022. These tests continue to concern South Korea, the US, and other countries in Asia, most notably Japan.

         Isaac Stone Fish, the CEO of Strategy Risk, which is a program that helps corporations and non-profit organizations minimize their risk of exposure to China, talked about how concerned the U.S. citizens should be with the rising tensions between North and South Korea. Fish said, “I don’t think we need to be that concerned. As always for North Korea, the most costs go to the North Korean people. For Americans, the biggest risk is mostly to the 28,00 American troops stationed in South Korea, the troops in Japan and the possibility of an attack on either South Korea or Japan.” Fish speculates that North Korea could be trying to draw attention to themselves knowing that the U.S. has midterm elections coming up.

Cheong Seong-Chang, an analyst at the Sejong Institute in South Korea speculated that North Korea knows that the US has a complicated relationship with Russia and China which would make it difficult for the U.S. to work with those two regional powers to find a potential solution for the issues with North Korea. Seong-Chang said, “The South Korean military needs to make thorough preparations to prevent fresh skirmishes from happening on the West Sea and prevent them from causing the worst-case scenario like the North Korean military’s artillery bombardments on the South Korean Border.”         While there is currently no direct threat to the continental U.S. posed by North Korea, US citizens should still be aware of the rising tensions in Korea as South Korea and Japan are valued US allies, and potentially a miscalculation in missile trajectory could cause a North Korean missile to impact on South Korean or Japanese territory. Such a mistake, whether an error or purposeful by North Korea could cause the US and its allies to enact additional economic sanctions or military retaliation against North Korea, igniting a conflict which could potentially injure or kill hundreds of thousands of people

North Korea Tests Missiles that can “hit and wipe out” Enemies

international politics, Politics

 By Elizabeth Boyle, Staff

         On Sunday, Oct. 9, North Korea continued its missile testing by launching two short-range ballistic missiles toward the east. In response, South Korea has boosted its surveillance of North Korea. South Korea reported that the two missiles were launched between 1:48 AM and 1:58 AM from the city of Munchon. These launches are only two in an ongoing military demonstration by North Korea.

         The tensions between North and South Korea began at the end of World War II when Korea was divided. The Soviet Union supported the North, and the United States supported the South. A consensus could not be reached on what form of government should rule, so both the North and South created two new governments with the supervision of the Soviet Union and the U.S. The new governments are divided at the 38th parallel. The North became the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, aligned with the Soviet Union and the South became the Republic of Korea, aligned with the U.S. and other Western countries.

         In 1952 at the end of the Korean War, the 38th parallel was replaced by a buffer zone named the Korean Demilitarized Zone. This line divides the country in half. Tensions continue today as North Korea continues to expand economically and wishes to demonstrate its power to the rest of the world.

         You may be thinking, what is the problem with missile testing? This question is answered by Kim Dong-yub, a professor who teaches North Korean studies in Seoul, South Korea. Dong-yub stated that because the missile traveled an estimated 370 miles, he believes a potential target of that distance could be the South Korean southeastern port city of Busan. Another missile launched over Japan was a new intermediate-range weapon that can travel up to 2,800 miles. Dong-yub speculates this missile is designed to hit targets as far away as Alaska or Hawaii.

         October 10th was the 77th Anniversary of North Korea’s Workers’ Party, and profound statements were released by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA said that the missiles launched from North Korea were in response to naval drills between the U.S. and South Korea because it involved the aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan, which is a nuclear-powered ship. It has not been used for five years. KCNA stated that “Through seven times of launching drills of tactical nuclear operation units, the actual capabilities…of the nuclear combat forces read to hit and wipe out the set objects at any location and any time was displayed to the full.” This indicates a direct threat against Reagan and its support fleet. Many Westerners are worried about the deliberate use of the words “hit and wipe out” as some of the missiles being tested have such a long range.

         Kim Jong-un, spoke out making his intentions crystal clear. He states that the recent missile tests were “an obvious warning” to South Korea and the U.S. He also stated that his military would maintain “their strongest nuclear response posture and further strengthen it in every way.”

         This year North Korea has launched over 40 missiles. Many believe North Korea will continue to “send messages” until the U.S. formally recognizes North Korea as a Nuclear State which would mean many UN sanctions would be lifted from North Korea. The school of thought that is beginning to gain attention is that the war between Russia and Ukraine is causing a distraction that North Korea is using to its advantage.

Tensions between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus Islands 

international politics, Politics

Elizabeth Boyle, Staff


Today when you hear about a conflict between Greece and Turkey you might be confused thinking the conflict ended in the 1970s. That was true until this week.  

On Oct. 1st Cyprus celebrates its annual Independence Day. In 1960, Cypriot freedom was formally recognized by the governments of Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom (UK) in what is called the London and Zürich Agreement. The agreement was the result of a series of meetings that started in February 1959, when representatives from Greece, Turkey, and the UK met to draft an agreement that would cement Cyprus as an independent state. At the meeting, a constitution was also drafted which was designed to share power between the Greek majority (77%) and the Turkish minority (18%) on the island. Officially, on Aug. 16, 1960, Cyprus was recognized as an independent state. But soon after, in 1963, the agreement fell apart.  

In Dec. 1963, Cyprus was beset by violent clashes between Greek and Turkish factions, the United Nations sent in a peacekeeping force to geographically separate the opposing factions. Hostilities simmered until 1974 when Turkey sent their military in to claim almost 50% of the island in the North. Turkey self-claimed the land as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Turkey was the only one to recognize this area. Directly to the south of Turkey’s claimed land is what is called the UN Buffer Zone, and many refer to it as “the green line” which is still occupied by UN peacekeeping forces. The UN Buffer Zone stretches from the west coast of Cyprus horizontally to the east coast across a total of 112 miles. The Buffer Zone, which was established in 1964, was enhanced in 1974 when Turkey invaded. In response to this Turkey built up its own border defenses on the Northern side of the Buffer Zone. Turkey’s line is known as the Attila line which was named after the code name for the Turkish invasion of Cyprus labeled “Operation Attila.” Turkey’s barrier is lined with concrete walls and barbed wire, and it has ditches meant to deter tanks and minefields spread throughout. The UN Buffer Zone and Turkish barricade run right through the middle of Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. Since the fall of the Berlin wall, Nicosia remains the last capital to be physically divided in Europe. In addition to the Cypriot land that the UN and Turkey occupy there are two areas on the southern coast that are British sovereign base areas. Most of southern Cyprus comprises the Republic of Cyprus and is populated by ethnic Greeks. 

Allegedly this past weekend there was a deployment by Greece of dozens of U.S. made armored vehicles to the Aegean islands of Samos and Lesbos. Turkey summoned the Greek ambassador and protested. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that the island be demilitarized. Erdogan warned that Turkey would not hold back on defending its interests against NATO allies, including Greece. Erdogan is now calling for formal recognition of Turkey’s self-claimed land in Northern Cyprus.  

At the Cyprus Independence Day parade, on Oct. 1, Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos said that Turkey’s “revisionist and destabilizing behavior” is undermining security in the east Mediterranean region. Panagiotopoulos disregarded Erdogan’s demands to demilitarize the islands saying, “as if they are not being threatened and as if we don’t have the right to take all defensive measures for them.” 

These demands from Turkey increase tensions between Turkey and Greece while leaving Cyprus, in the middle. Greece has stated they can defend the islands despite Turkey’s threats.  

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said that even though Cyprus is being supplied with more military equipment the action is not designed to provoke Turkey, nor should it provide Turkey a basis for bolstering the 40,000 troops it has stationed in the North.  

NATO and the European Union want to assist in defusing the current escalation in tensions, but a permanent solution for the ethnic hostilities in Cyprus has not been reached for almost 50 years.