viernes, 27 de junio de 2014

The Spotlight Is Back On The Atlantic

Since 2009, when president Barack Obama came into power, a “pivotation” regarding the U.S. foreign policy has taken place. The idea of the Obama administration’s strategic “pivot” from the Middle East to East Asia seems to be challenged with the negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Photograph retrieved form: <>.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, is a proposed free trade agreement that would link the world's two largest economies: the United States and Europe. If successfully negotiated, the TTIP would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as the world’s largest free trade area, with a combined GDP of $31.06 trillion.

On the one hand, the TTIP implies advantages such as a greater economical growth, which would create more jobs and prosperity for two giant engines of the world's economy; reduce high unemployment levels left over from the 2008 financial crisis; improvement of the political bilateral relations between the U.S. and the European Union; and boost the economy by reducing costs (for example the removal of double-taxations).

On the other hand, TTIP could also involve some negative aspects such as the disappearance of small business due to the increased competition and the possible monopoles that big enterprises may build. The U.S.A. and specially, the E.U. would have to give up protectionist measures in industries such as agriculture, energy.. For example, European agribusiness would suffer from cheaper American-made food imports. In addition, the E.U. bans all genetically-modified crops and meat from animals treated with growth hormones. It also refuses poultry that's been washed with chlorine. These are all practices common with U.S. food. European consumers would complain loudly if these bans were lifted. They feel the ban protects them from tainted or lower quality food and public criticism may arise with the implementation of the TTIP.

It is estimated that until late 2015 or early fall 2015, technical negotiations would not conclude. Then the agreement will be submitted to the US Congress and the European Parliament for their consideration and hopefully their approval in the months of January-April 2016. If it goes as planned, the agreement will be approved by late spring of 2016 and on January 1st 2017 the TTIP will be implemented.

Since Colonial times, the Atlantic has been of key importance regarding trade, alliances and economic relationships. We can say that the last time we could see the Atlantic as the major ocean from a geopolitical point of view was during the Cold War. This agreement will relocate the focus of Americans towards their historical allies responding to those who argue that the U.S. was more interested in the Pacific (eg. The Trans-Pacific Partnership: U.S. Trade agreement with Pacific countries such as Japan, Philippines…).

An agreement would strengthen the geo-political standing of the Trans-Atlantic bloc against the rising economic power of China, India and other Pacific nations, as well as the growing success of Latin America. If the U.S. and E.U. could iron out their differences, they could stand as a united front against market threats from the rest of the world.

Paula Padrino

miércoles, 18 de junio de 2014

Gun control: a problem or a solution?

Last Tuesday a gunman walked into Reynolds High School near Portland (Oregon) with a rifle and shot a student to death before he was later found dead. This is the third outbreak of gun violence to shake a U.S. high school or college campus in less than three weeks. Last week, a man opened fire at Seattle Pacific University killing a 19-year-old freshman, Paul Lee, and inuring other 2 students. And on the 23rd of May, a man killed 6 people and wounded 7 more in Santa Barbara, California.
The incident in Oregon was the 74th school shooting in the U.S. since the December 2012 shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in the U.S. about 1 out of every 4.5 million school kids between the ages of 5 and 18 dies from homicide each year at school or getting there and back, . That works out to about 10 to 30 kids a year, or about 1% of all kids who die from homicide.
The U.S.A. has more guns than any other industrialized nation, is it just a matter of personal security? Some people argue that they don’t expect the police to defend themselves because by the time they call the police, it’s too late. Therefore thy obtain guns for self-defence. This creates a vicious cycle: thief or criminal in America carries a gun because he doesn’t know if the other person (eg. owner of the house) has a gun. As Mr. Ryan Turner, president of Democrats Abroad Madrid, said in an interview: “So when someone enters your house, you are very scared because you think they carry a gun. Here in Europe in general, it might not cross our mind that the burglar has a AK47 Kalashnikov. Usually burglars are quick and they don’t normally use violence”
second amendment
On the 10th of June 2014, Obama showed his concern regarding the issue of guns’ control inside his country by saying: “My biggest frustration so far is the fact that this society has not been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who can do just unbelievable damage”
As response to the slaughter in Newtown, Connecticut, Barack Obama threw on January 16th (2013) the major offer on the control of weapon of the last two decades. The legislative offers were destined to avoid that the weapon comes to inadequate hands, to prohibit the sale of the weapon, to increase the safety in the schools and to improve the services of mental health.The legislative offers had three fundamental changes: to prohibit the rifles of assault, to limit the number of bullets in the loaders, and to extend the control of the precedents for all the transactions of weapons.However, when the legislation came to the Senate in April, it failed to get the 60 votes needed and all Obama’s major initiatives, including the background checks, were defeated and have remained stalled ever since. Nevertheless, The American president promised, that “sooner or later” a more strict legislation would be achieved for the control of weapon.
In our opinion, gun regulation must be stricter. We think the United States has already suffered for a lot of murders and something must be changed in order to prevent those shootings from happening again. We don’t argue against the Second Amendment which gives you the right of owning a gun, we consider that as well as other products and services, guns must follow some kind of control, regulations and limitations. We think the government should try and not be influence by powerful lobbies such as the NRA and try to create pieces of legislation that protects the citizens of the U.S.A.

Paula Padrino Vilela

viernes, 6 de junio de 2014

Taliban release last U.S. military prisoner of war

Last Saturday 31st of May, the Haqqani group (Islamist insurgent group) liberated the last American prisoner of both Iraq and Afghanistan war. Bowe Bergdah, an American soldier who was held hostage since the 30th of June 2009, was released in exchange of five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison.

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was delivered to the U.S. Special Forces in the east of Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan. Authorities declared that during the exchange there was no violence and that Bergdahl was in good condition and able to walk. However he was taken to an American military hospital in Germany after receiving medical care at Bagram Air Base, the main US base in Afghanistan. Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said that Bergdahl is showing improvement during his treatment after nearly five years in captivity and that there’s no “set timeline” to move him into an American hospital to continue his medical treatment.
The five Taliban involved in the swap were high-ranking members of the Taliban government (Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mohammed Nabi, Khairullah Khairkhwa and Abdul Haq Wasiq) who were arrested by the U.S. in 2001. All of them fled together to Qatar in order to culminate the exchange.

This operation was the result of indirect negotiations between the United States and Taliban with the intermediation of the government of Qatar. Qatar agreed to take the Taliban detainees and said it would allow the United States to track the five men in the Gulf emirate. Under that arrangement, the United States installed extensive surveillance equipment to monitor their movements and communications.
In his early twenties, Bowe Bergdahl enlisted in 2008 without telling his parents. He was drawn by recruiters’ promises that he would be able to go overseas to help people. Once deployed to Afghanistan, he was disillusioned with the US military mission. In his final email to his parents before his capture, he wrote: “I am ashamed to even be an American”.
After telling his comrades he was disillusioned, Bergdahl disappeared off his base in Afghanistan and was captured by Taliban fighters. After being captured, some fellow soldiers believed he willingly walked away from his post and called him a traitor. That morning Bergdahl’s unit started searching for him, as he didn’t show up for roll call. Members of his army blame him for the deaths of other soldiers sent out to rescue him.
The price paid for the release of the Sergeant (the liberation of five former Taliban leaders from Guantanamo to Qatar) is a very controversial issue. Although some Republican members of the U.S. Congress have said the prisoner swap was a dangerous precedent, Obama stands by his decision and said on the G7 Summit in Belgium: “I make no apologies for making sure we get a young man back to his parents”. Furthermore, Mr Hagel, US Secretary of Defense, said that “This was the right decision for the right reasons”, “We don’t leave our people behind”.
Finally last Saturday Bowe’s parents appeared with President Obama at the White House to announce their son’s release. Obama argued that the U.S.A. never leaves the men and women in uniform behind. He thanked the government and Emir of Qatar for their help and their assurance to put measures to protect American national security. Due to the allegations of dissertation the American Army is going to review the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s capture and authorities say they will not ignore any misconduct by the released detainee. However, John McHugh, the secretary of the US army, said on Tuesday that officials would interview Bergdahl about the circumstances of his disappearance in Afghanistan once completes a rehabilitation programme in Germany. In addition, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff has stated the former detainee should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

martes, 3 de junio de 2014

Obama announces future foreign policy at West Point

On May 28th, President Barack Obama spoke at the United States Military Academy at West Point to define America’s doctrine on foreign policy.

Obama started his intervention by congratulating the newest officers in the United States Army. He pointed out that this year’s graduates are the first class who may not be sent into combat in Iraq or Afghanistan since 9/11. Things have changed since he first spoke at West Point in 2009. At that time, more than 100,000 troops were deployed in Iraq, they were preparing an invasion to Afghanistan, they were trying to fight terrorism and America was just starting to enter one of its biggest economic crises.
Furthermore, this speech is the closest Obama has been to defining his foreign policy doctrine. Obama mentions how the world is changing rapidly, how Americans must adapt to the new situations and shift from military-interventionism to collective action and diplomacy. “U.S. military action cannot be the only – or even primary – component of our leadership in every instance. Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail” He also explained that the U.S. and it’s important role in the international system is not in decline, on the contrary, he describes America as “the one indispensable nation” which the world looks to for help.
Regarding the use of military force, U.S. president insisted that America should never ask for permission to protect its citizens or its homeland. The U.S.A. will use military force if it’s in the interest of the country, Americans are threatened or its allies are in danger. He added that in the rest of the cases, U.S.A. will always look for other ways to solve issues such as international law, diplomacy or sanctions and isolation, for instance, the U.S. response to Russia’s invasion of Crimea. Moreover, he defended his decision not to intervene in Syria and he offered support toSyria’s neighbours who are the hosts of thousands of refugees.
Unlike other speeches, this one was characterized by its foreign policy announcements. For instance, he is going to ask the Congress to support a new $5 billion Counterterrorism Partnership Fund that will be used to help and assist partner countries (such as Yemen or Mali) on the front lines. In addition, Obama announced that American presence in Afghanistan will be reduced by the end of 2016.
Obama also highlighted some aspects of the environment and climate change.He thinks that climate change is a national security threat, so it must be combated as such. U.S.A. plans to develop a treaty during the negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate. “That spirit of cooperation must energize the global effort to combat climate change – a creeping national security crisis that will help shape your time in uniform, as we’re called on to respond to refugee flows, natural disasters, and conflicts over water and food,” Obama said. He emphasized the threat posed by the development of technology and globalization, saying that they have “put power once reserved for states in the hands of the individual, raising the capacity of terrorists to do harm.”
U.S. is nowadays a reference and the entity to which any state or any region goes to ask for help or advice. Military forces are and will be very important for the president and the citizens of the U.S  in order to maintain the peace and the stability of the country.

Paula Padrino Vilela

jueves, 29 de mayo de 2014

National Interest, Legality and Legitimacy

“Government loses its claim to legitimacy when it fails to fulfill its obligations” – Martin L. Gross. Therefore can we argue that our European leaders are legitimate?
For decades after the creation of the European Union, the member states have lived in a period of integration, excitement and economic prosperity. All this economic growth and optimism came to an end when the economic crisis arose in 2008. Since 2008, Europe has been involved in a pessimistic environment. Scepticism appeared regarding the Euro zone. A political gap has been opened between citizens and their politicians. Distrust increased between the countries of the north and south of Europe. Moreover, a growth in euro scepticism and re nationalism of politics seems to have appeared.

Suchman (1995, p. 574) considers that "Legitimacy is a generalized perception or assumption that the actions of an entity are desirable, proper, or appropriate within some socially constructed system of norms, values, beliefs, and definitions." Some may argue that this is what we are missing nowadays. The democratization process, which takes place in Brussels, has become more and more distant towards citizens of the European Union. People don’t feel that they the politicians at Brussels represent them and neither do they think the decisions taken are appropriate. Therefore, this creates discomfort and unrest among Europeans.

We can say that nowadays the legitimacy of the European Union leaders has been questioned. A sentiment of distance and disappointment fills the streets of every European city. The economic crisis has a lot to do with the rise of these feelings on the society. Therefore, we can say that the economic crisis has lead to a political crisis as well.

We can also explain this lack of legitimacy to a lack of communication between institutions and citizens. Politicians and representatives in the E.U. should have evolved together with this new mentality which belongs to a new Europeanized generation and which plays a very important role in the public opinion. However, we can argue that citizens don’t see themselves as an actor in European politics anymore. This also leads to the fact that the vast majority of the European population has low level of knowledge about the European institutions. How can we as Europeans, take action on the political life, if we don’t know the basics of European politics?

A very good example that explains the concept of legitimacy is the case of Ukraine.
In November 2013, the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych withdrew from the negotiations on the trade agreement with the E.U, the so called, the Association Agreement seeking closer ties with Russia. The rejection of the agreement, which would bring modernization, liberalization, rule of law to Ukraine and greater integration with the West, provoked a numerous mass protests. This was a sign that a big part of the Ukrainian population wanted prosperity and closer political and cultural ties with Europe. After weeks of revolts where over 70 people were killed, the revels took control of the government in Kiev and stabilised the Ukrainian 2004 constitution. Moreover, Yanukovych needed to go and his removal from office upset the country’s internal politics. Regarding this we also have to take into account that this new government established in Kiev is not representative of all the Ukrainians. Unlike the former Yanukovych government, the new-formed political leaders have not been elected in a democratic election; there hasn't been any legitimate democratic process. They took the power by force. Therefore, some people argue that although for some Ukrainians, the Kiev government may be legitimate, for other Ukrainians, it may be not.

The current situation in Ukraine is characterized by the Russian military intervention in the southern part of Ukraine (Crimea). Russia argues that they invaded the territory because they wanted to restore the constitutional order and protect the rights of Ukraine’s Russian-speaking citizens. However, is Russia the legitimate authority? It can also be argued that the Russian government is not legitimate for those pro-Europeans.
In today’s uncertain situation, we need to take into account the interconnectedness between the concept of legality and legitimacy in order to reach to an agreement, which would comply with the will of the Ukrainian population.

Legitimacy needs law as much as law needs legitimacy — law cannot be respected if seen as illegitimate, while appeals to legitimacy must be based in law to prevent opportunismWe can explain this with the example of the 1999 Kosovo intervention in which we can clearly see that legitimacy and legality don’t always go together. Most legal experts say that the Serbian airstrikes were illegal because the operation was not authorised by the Security Council. On the contrary, some experts regarded this military intervention as a legitimate action. According to the international law, (Article 53 of the UN Charter): “no enforcement action shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council”. Therefore in order to stop the ethnic cleansing in the area, NATO decided to take further action, regarded as legitimate not as legal and intervene militarily bombing Kosovo.

Another concept which is closely related with legitimacy is sovereignty. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, sovereignty is defined as the supreme power or authority. In international politics, sovereignty is based on two main principles: the doctrine of non-intervention and the doctrine of legal equality.

This concept was born in the Peace of Westphalia (1648), which ended the Thirty Years War. The idea of non-intervention was later applied in multiple international law documents for instance, in the Article 2 of the United Nations Charter: "Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter Vll." Moreover, one of the main principles of the United Nations is based also on the principle of sovereign equality of all its members (legal equality), which is also expressed in the Article 2 of the U.N. Charter. Due to the Peace of Westphalia, the modern notion of state and the international system were created. The idea of sovereignty for European states changed with the creation of the European Union after WWII. This unique institutional hybrid has created a new system in which member states give up part of their sovereignty in order to achieve the goal of stability (economically, socially, culturally…), in other words: to avoid war. This is a revolutionary approach in which states are not fully sovereign inside their territory. The E.U. does not act as a state and does not work like a state either. It is a hybrid political structure between a state and an international organization.

 The E.U. started as a trade agreement but it has evolved and it has become a supranational authority. On the one hand, the elements that may relate the E.U. with a federation are the supremacy of the European law over the national law, the common citizenship, the common currency (Euro), the qualified majority voting and the supranational judicial review with the existence of institutions such as the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European Court of Justice, the Council of Europe, the European Central Bank… On the other hand, the lack of a common government, common military, common fiscal policies, common debt and a common constitution make the E.U. closer to an international institution.

The main question regarding the European Union and the concept of sovereignty is: Where does the sovereignty reside? As mentioned before, the states are completely sovereign over their territories in some aspects, for instance in fiscal policies, unlike in other aspects like in monetary issues the member states are not sovereign. This can create confusion in the European society specially regarding foreign affairs. Should every state follow their foreign affair’ strategy? Or should the European Union act as a unity regarding foreign affairs? Some experts argue that in today’s globalized world where new big economical and political powers are arising such as China, Brazil or India, the European Union states can’t act separately, because they would be extremely insignificant and cant be compared with the new emerging powers. However, if the E.U. commit to integration and act united, the E.U. may have better chances when competing with these emerging powers.

There are two possible hypotheses which explains the future path of the E.U.: more integration among E.U. members, renouncing to more sovereignty and giving it to the E.U. or disintegration of the E.U. Due to the economic and political crisis, states are more reluctant of giving more sovereignty to the E.U. and are beginning to think about the negative consequences of being part of the system. A big distrust have arisen between the northern countries and the southern countries of Europe, some of the reasons for the creation of the E.U. are no longer considered as important as they were for instance the rehabilitation of Germany, the soviet threat or the memory of WWII. There is no longer optimism and a feeling of union between member states and this can damage the stability of the institution.
Therefore in order to preserve order and stability, we should carefully think about the European sovereignty and what Europeans want for their future.
Talking about what the Europeans want for their future, we can also explain the importance of the concept of national interest. National interest is a very complex concept, which can be defined as the political will of the state previously analyzed and formulated by the statesman (leader) who has interpreted the opinion of its citizens (the population of its state). In international politics, it’s often used in political discourses in order to justify their decisions or trying to make those decisions more legitimate, arguing that they are necessary for the state.

The interests of a nation-state are not fixed not permanent, they may vary over time. We can take the example of the Middle East. We can divide the countries in three groups depending on the resources, interests, alliances or geography. First we can have the group of countries, which share common interests with the E.U., they have low resources and they have no other offers of alliances with other big powers. Therefore, the alliance between these countries and the E.U would not be balanced because they need the European alliance. Morocco or Tunisia are examples of this first group of countries. The second group of countries like Algeria or Libya is characterized by having some interests in common with the E.U., a lot of resources inside their frontiers and the only possible deal with the Europe would be economic integration, establishing economical relations. The third group of countries are the ones who have  a lot of interests in common, a lot of resources on their own and other offers form other big powers. This balance is not beneficial for the E.U. because its influence will be less.

International politics are moulded according to the national interest of the countries. For instance, for the last decades, Turkey has tried to become part of the E.U. because the Turkish government considered the European union as an opportunity to have economic prosperity and a closer relation with the West. This has provoked different reactions in the European arena, where some states rejected the idea of letting Turkey become a member state and others who supported the Turkish candidacy. Among those against the entrance of turkey in the European Union we have the former presidency of Sarkozy in France or the current presidency of Merkel in Germany. The main arguments for the opposition are based on identity issues. They argue that Turkey does not have the values of the E.U. they are questioning the adequacy of Turkey as a candidate.

During the last few years, people have argued that Turkey doesn’t have the interest of becoming a member any more after watching the euro nearly collapse and the economic crisis that Europe is suffering. It is believed that Europe is now not on the national interest of Turkey anymore.

To conclude, all these three concepts are interconnected and are crucial in order to understand today’s international politics. Legitimacy depends on legality as well as national interests depend on legitimacy.


Darden K., (01.03.2014), “Ukraine’s Crisis of Legitimacy”, Foreign Affairs. Council of Foreign Relations, retrieved from: <>. [16.03.2014]

Roberts J., n.d.,“Sovereignty”, Towson University, retrieved from: <>. [16.03.2014]

Legault A., (2000), “NATO Intervention in Kosovo: the Legal Context”, Canadian Military Journal, retrieved from: <>. [16.03.2014]

Paula Padrino Vilela
This is a university project for the course of Concepts of IR.

lunes, 26 de mayo de 2014

The victory of UKIP, Independents and Danish People's Party

  Yesterday night, Sunday 25th of May 2014, the European Parliamentary elections results were announced. Each member country opened their poll stations on different days from the 22nd to the 25th of May. On the 22nd of May, the election process started in several countries in the European Union such as the U.K. Others like Denmark opened their polls on Friday, 23rd of May, or yesterday, 25th of May, for example Ireland or Spain. Results show an increase of the euroskepticism with the strong support to political parties such as UKIP and a huge support also to the conservative parties.

U.K., Ireland and Denmark joined the E.U. in 1973. Some people argue that the U.K. decided to enter this international organization for mainly economic reasons. U.K. never wanted to be involved in all the aspects regarding the Community, they only wanted to get the benefits from the free trade and bring prosperity to their country. Therefore, due to the economic crisis many British citizens are questioning their membership to the E.U., which explains the rise of the popularity of UKIP.
On the 22nd of May, citizens in Britain sent a message of discontent previously shown in the results of the Local council elections. UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) became the centre of attention after it’s success at the local polls. Although they failed to gain any council, the anti-European Union, anti-immigration party of Nigel Farage won 163 councillors.
The main goal of this populist party is to get the country out of the European Union. Farage declared after his party landed major blows on the Tories and Labour in local polls: “The Ukip Fox Is In The Westminster Hen House”. Just a week before the European Parliamentary Elections, this was said to predict the results of the Euro voting. This rise of the antiEU party also was significant in the last European Elections of 2009 in which they won a 16% of the votes. UKIP was behind the conservatives with a 26% and ahead of the Labour party, which got a 15.3%. Comparing these results with the ones released yesterday we can see the increase in UKIP which gained a 27.5% of the votes and have won 23 members of the European Parliament (MEPs); Labour Party with a result of 25% with 18 MEPs and Conservatives obtained a 24% of the votes.
The results of main Irish political parties in the elections are: the Independents with a 24% of the Irish votes; Fine Gael which yesterday won a 22%; Fianna Fáil Party with a 22%; Sinn Féin 17%. These results are quite different from the ones obtained in 2009, when the Independents were not as strong as they turned out to be in this European election.
In Denmark, the Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti) has had a huge increase in its support comparing yesterday’s results (27%) with the ones obtained in 2009 (15.3%). Social Democratic Party (Socialdemokratiet) on the other hand, decreased it’s popularity getting a 21.5% in 2009 and in 2014 a 19.10% of the votes. Venstre, Denmark’s Liberal Party (Venstre, Danmarks Liberale Party) also decreased their number of votes, in 2009 they obtained a 20.2% and in 2014 a 16.70%,
Overall,the results show a huge increase in the importance and popularity of certain eurosceptic political parties such as UKIP, together with the extrem right wing parties such as Le Front nationale (French). All these MEPs will represent citizens of the member states of the European Union in the European parliament. The right or conservative partoes have won the more seats in the parliament and we will have to wait another 5 years to experience the next european parliamentary elections.

Paula Padrino 

sábado, 24 de mayo de 2014

U.S. response to the abduction of the Nigerian girls

The abduction of more than 200 young Nigerian girls, most of them Christian, from the Government Secondary boarding school in Chibok by the terrorist group Boko Haram on the 14th of April this year, has led to an increase insocial media activism. On May 9th, due to the strong social pressure, the U.S.A. sent a group of 16 military personnel from U.S Africa Command to join an interdisciplinary team working from the U.S. embassy in Abuja to try and help the Nigerian government forces to free the schoolgirls.
Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the terrorist group, claimed that he will sell the girls as God had instructed him. Moreover, he considers that the girls shouldn’t have been in school in the first place, but rather should get married. Those girls were considered to receive a western education, this, in addition to their religious beliefs led to their abduction by this terrorist group whose name can be translated as “non-Islamic education is a sin”.
The role of the U.S.A. is of key importance in the international arena. On May 9th, the U.S. decided to send help to the Nigerian government in order to free the innocent girls. “The main role of this interdisciplinary group is to assess the situation, advise and assist the Nigerian government in their efforts to respond to the crisis situation and find the young women kidnapped by Boko Haram”- Army Colonel Steve Warren explained. According to the Pentagon, the members of the team sent to Nigeria are specialized in communications, logistics, civil affairs, operations and intelligence.

American citizens have asked the U.S. army to step into the problem using several campaigns in the social media. World-known personalities such as The First Lady of the U.S.A., Michele Obama, Amy Phoeler, Angelina Jolie, Malala Yousafzai or Hilary Clinton have raised their awareness and joined the social media campaign “Bring Back Our Girls” that urges for a military intervention in order to rescue the schoolgirls in the African country. According toTopsy, a site that offers Twitter analytics, thousands of tweets using (hash)BringBackOurGirls are being posted everyday. This shows the level of concern of the whole international community, not just Americans. Furthermore, on the 10th of May (Mother’s Day) Michelle Obama gave a speech to campaign for the girl’s release. It is very unusual for a First Lady to address national policy issues on her own. She said she and his husband Barack Obama were heartbroken over the kidnapping of the Nigerian girls.
Apart from the U.S. intervention, other countries have offered their help to the Nigerian government. The United Kingdom, France, China, Canada, Spain, Cameroon and Chad, among some others, have compromised to share valuable information and send skilled teams to the field. At the international level, the members of the U.N. Security Council expressed outrage over the abductions stating that appropriate measures against Boko Haram will be taken.
All in all, the public opinion is shocked by these terrorist acts and the U.S.A. seems to be trying to help liberate the girls from their abductors. As Obama said: “We’re going to do everything we can to provide assistance to them. In the short term our goal is obviously is to help the international community, and the Nigerian government, as a team to do everything we can to recover these young ladies”.

Paula Padrino Vilela

U.S.A. accuses China of cyber-espionage against American enterprises.

On May 19, five Chinese military officers were accused by a grand jury in the Western District of Pennsylvania (WDPA) for spying six American nuclear power, metals and solar products companies in order to steal trade secrets. China, on the contrary, denies these accusations and warns that bilateral relations between the two countries are going to be damaged.
A few days after the announcement of the American accusation, China signed a 30 year-gas-supply agreement with Russia, American’s rival counterpart due to the friction in Ukraine.
The defendants Gu Chunhui, Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu and Huang Zhenyu were officers in Unit 61398 of the Third Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The indictment alleges that the defendants hacked or intended to hack into the following American entities: Westinghouse Electric Co., U.S. subsidiaries of SolarWorld AG (SolarWorld); United States Steel Corp; Allegheny Technologies Inc; the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union; and Alcoa Inc.Mandiant, an American Cyber security firm, identified Unit 61398 as the source of a large Lumber of espionage operations. Unit 61398 is said not to be one of the most sophisticated bodies in China but it has hundreds of active spies.
It is the first time that the U.S.A. has filed charges against specific foreign officials for criminal hacking. However, it’s not the first time that the U.S. has taken measures to try and stop cyber espionage. For instance, on the 6th of September 2013 president Obama met the Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G20 summit in the city of St. Petersburg to talk about cyber espionage among many other issues.
China has denied the implication of its citizens regarding these criminal acts. Geng Yansheng, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, met with the U.S. Ambassador in Beijin, Max Baucus shortly after the U.S. charged the five Chinese officials and stated, “The Chinese government and military and its associated personnel have never conducted or participated in the theft of trade secrets over the Internet”.
China warns that the indictment is likely to damage the relationship between both countries. During the last decade, the accusations coming from both countries regarding cyber espionage are becoming more frequent. The two biggest economic forces have entered in a spiral of accusations and complaints dealing with the steal of national security information.
China denies the existence of this serious problem. What the U.S. expects from China is the elimination of the Sino-US Cyber Working Group’s interactions. Moreover, this indictment is merely an accusation, a defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law. The U.S. is going to go forward with the charges, probably in order to prove its commitment to the protection of American businesses and for the absence of a better idea. However, sceptics said that U.S. authorities would not be able to arrest the Chinese officials because Beijing would not hand them over. Still, they won’t be able to travel to the United States or other countries that have an extradition agreement with the United States.
Paula Padrino Vilela