Engineering with a Global Twist

May 14, 2007

Reflection

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitch778 @ 5:03 pm

The end of the semester came sooner than expected. I didn’t really get a chance to delve all that deeply into the topics about Russia that I wanted to. Instead I contributed rather sparse coverage to the many events occurring in Russia currently. I will now list my five top blogs of the semester with a short explanation for each.

5. A history: This blog could have been the prelude to a series detailing the historical relationship that the United States and Russia have had. I find their continuing dynamic to be fascinating and was hoping to broaden my topic slightly. This would have given me insight into my analysis of current events. Unfortunately, I was not able to continue with this tangent. It is a promising start.

4. The shady Mr. Putin: This was my first blog focusing exclusively on Russia. I was looking forward to the topic. But I had to refine this post to make sure I didn’t get carried away with covering way too much. It gave me a feel of how I would be approaching the subject in future posts.

3. Now it’s becoming clear: I really enjoyed writing this one. It was sort of a revelation for me. I felt that the entire situation with Russia and Iran had a deeper motivation. There was something not being told by the press or the Russian/Iranian governments. Suddenly the answer became clear to me. And it was quite simple. I was proud to make a connection; it demonstrated that I was capable of seeking answers to things that don’t entirely make sense.

2. Unrest in the Motherland: I am proud of this entry. It was my latest and was featured on the Irregular Blogging website. I’ve been watching for some time now the state of unrest in Russia. The people there are increasingly worried about their government’s actions. The protests they organized did not make the biggest headlines. Instead it was the reaction by Putin’s government to these protests. The clashes between protesters and riot police made the most international waves.

1. Selling Russia: One of my earlier blogs was also featured on Irregular Blogging. Entitled ‘Putin’s Magical Mystery Tour’ it covered the trip to the Middle East that Putin took to boost trade relations. I was dubious about Putin’s intentions. There was something under the surface, some hidden motive. I did some speculating. But I was most impressed by it being featured on the main site. Several people made comments on it, expressing similar reactions to my own. That was a very good way to begin my semester of blogging.

Again, I did not blog as much as I’d hoped. I am very much interested in using the forum of blogs to discuss current events. It is a neat and exciting medium.

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April 16, 2007

Unrest in the Motherland

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitch778 @ 8:40 pm

It seems, based on recent actions by police forces in Moscow, that President Vladimir Putin has something else to fear: public demonstrations of opposition. Over the weekend, opposition rallies have been blocked by riot police. These protesters were expressing their disagreement with President Putin and his policies.

This mirrors actions taken by the Russian government in recent months. The suppression of protests is just one tactic Putin uses to hide dissatisfaction among the masses. It’s been reported that opposing political parties have been incongruously disqualified from elections and news media outlets have been targeted and monitored.

Sadly, this tyrannical-like system is the direction Putin has been privy to. Western nations and non-governmental organizations alike have watched with alarm at the developments taking place in Russia. This latest incident, where up to one-quarter of the demonstrators were detained and eventually released, only further demonstrates the lengths that Putin will go to eliminate any and all challenges. Some interpret this as a sign of weakness or fear; that Putin feels he is losing his grip on the state of his country.

Whatever motivates him, the solutions Putin uses seem to be working as his party continues to dominate the political landscape. He could care less about what the West thinks. Putin’s main concern is keeping order and stability, even at the cost of freedom. By doing this, Putin makes Russia a more attractive partner to other countries in the processing of uranium and other resources prevalent in Africa.

Putin may be stubborn, but his success at following through on his ideals is clearly shown. He has conviction. I have to give him that much. But nothing else.

March 22, 2007

Now it’s becoming clear

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitch778 @ 5:56 pm

More news regarding Russia’s relations with countries in lower Asia and Africa. In a previous blog, I commented on Russian President Putin’s visits to countries in the Middle East and Africa with suspicion. Something just didn’t feel right to me. I’m sure the whole story behind Putin’s visit was not told. Well, this article from an engineering news site helped to clear some of the confusion I had.

Apparently, President Putin is a major proponent of building an “international uranium-enrichment centre” in Russia. This centre would use Russian technology to enrich the uranium for other countries who pay for the costs. This enables countries to have a program in nuclear energy while also reducing the risks of nuclear proliferation by terrorist groups.

South Africa is currently one of the countries intensely interested in participating in this program. Russia wants to work with South Africa in building a similar uranium enrichment centre in South Africa. Russia would supply the technology to power the nuclear cycle.

When it comes to Iran, Russia’s position is similar. Russia wants Iran to use the Russian centre to enrich its uranium for energy and peaceful purposes only. That is why Russia has been more lenient with Iran when it comes to its nuclear program. It does not want to alienate a potential ally who would pay for Russia’s services. This is an extremely smart idea. In my mind, this almost completely vindicates Putin. Almost.

Putin indeed wants to flex some muscle and show off some of what Russia has to offer. Improving relations with countries via a whirlwind tour (and perhaps by taking a swing or two at the world hegemon) will open the doors to more possibilities in Russia’s future.

I now have some more insight and knowledge on Russia’s motives and how they differ from the United States. And I am more at ease and relieved. Russia doesn’t want nuclear weapons to end up in the wrong hands any more than the U.S. does. It’s intentions are not devious. In fact, the intentions of Russia may be some of the most intelligent in the world today.

March 4, 2007

A history

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitch778 @ 3:49 pm

I think one of the most fascinating dichotomies in history has been the relationship between the United States and Russia/The USSR, two superpowers whose differing interests and ideals frequently led to conflict.

This year, the American embassy in Moscow will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of relations between the two countries. In a new website, the ambassador to Russia gives an optimistic summation of past relations. William J. Burns says that people of both countries “share a wide range of historical experiences and interests.”

Though mostly on amiable terms now, the friendship was anything but friendly during the Cold War. Prior to World War II, the two both stood against the rising tide of fascism. Both faced the menace of Nazi Germany, vowing to prevent such madness from consuming more of the world.

The end of the war changed things. Anticipating a coming showdown with the USSR, President Harry Truman in 1945 unleashed the awesome and frightful power of the atomic bomb on Japan, in what many viewed as an intimidation tactic by the U.S. Japan was on the USSR’s doorstep, proving that the U.S. could strike possibly anywhere around the globe.

The leaders of the two countries knew that a conflict for domination in the aftermath of the world war was inevitable. What ensued from 1945 until 1989 was an arms race, a fear factor, a treaty parade, and countless encounters abroad.

I will be looking more into this period of time in the coming months, trying to bring some perspective to the increasingly comparable situation today.

February 18, 2007

Selling Russia

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitch778 @ 8:21 pm

As I mentioned in my last blog, Russian President Putin was on a tour of the Middle East, something he last did in 2005. Putin visited Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Qatar. This normally typical tour of nations, one of the many job descriptions of a head of state, piqued my interest.

Putin met with the King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia to discuss major issues like the Iraq War and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This visit also concerned the oil trade between the Middle East and Russia. Putin wanted to help improve trade relations and cooperation.

This visit seems odd. I realize that this trip seems unassuming and procedural, but a few observations came to my head. First, Putin visited nations with overall friendly ties to the United States. In case of a possibly escalating situation between Russia and the U.S., Putin may want to ensure that those countries will not immediately side with the U.S. Keeping warm relations can only help. Second, Putin’s visit may have effects on the region. Russia has historically been at odds with the U.S. regarding Iran’s nuclear program. The U.S. is harsher with Iran while Russia favors a more passive approach. Putin may want to spread the arguments for his side, perhaps to reassure leaders should Iran have a fully operational nuclear program. Lastly, Putin’s aggressive comments about the U.S. were spoken during his tour albeit in Germany. Putin most likely sees the U.S. in a vulnerable position: the drawn-out Iraq War, the recent midterm elections, relations with North Korea and Iran.

Whatever Putin’s motivations, he clearly wanted to accomplish something during the trip which would benefit Russia. With Russia’s economy on the upswing, Putin wants to flex some muscle on the international stage.

February 16, 2007

The Shady Mr. Putin

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitch778 @ 9:55 pm

Russia has always had an alluring and mysterious cloud enveloping it. In the last century, no other country has endured the many revolutions, political upheavals, and oppressive leaders Russia has. Its history is fascinating and its future will be no different, I suspect. The topic that continues to catch the attention of the international community are the actions by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin, who’s been president of Russia since 2000, leaves office next year after a full second term. Focus recently has been on Putin’s seemingly unwarrented decisions to weaken Russia’s democracy. An article from the New York Times written by Steven Lee Myers on Thursday, February 15, profiled probably the most striking election reforms. Parties looking to run in local or national elections have had more difficulty than usual in registering their candidates. According to the article, smaller parties like Yabloko were forced off the ballot in St. Petersburg. Parties that are loyal to President Putin have had a relatively easy time in campaigning. Those parties, United Russia, Just Russia, and the Liberal Democratic Party, continue to dominate Russian politics.

Myers goes on, saying that “the Kremlin has also made it difficult for political parties to form and register…the Justice Ministry refused to qualify 15 of the 32 that applied last year.” Almost half of the eligible parties were disqualified. Those who fail to gain any attention or following simply disappear.

Putin, with each passing action or speech, further erodes his credibility as a leader dedicated to freedom. His recent harsh words about the United States have only served to provoke the international community. The increasingly confrontational tone from Putin disappoints this observer.

I am viewing the developments between the United States and Russia with great concern. I hate to see such a productive and healthy relationship between the two fracture. For over 15 years, the two countries have been amiable allies.

I do not know what reasons Putin has for being more aggressive. Perhaps he’s trying to intensify his influence on events, domestically in Russia and elsewhere, before he leaves office. Whatever the reason, I hope he ceases such bitter language. The United States and Russia need to reexamine their relationship and attempt to mend the wounds created over issues like Iran, NATO, and Iraq.

The alliance with Russia is something the United States cannot afford to lose.

More to come regarding Putin’s recent trips to the Middle East and the threat to leave the 1987 arms treaty.

February 4, 2007

Warming in the future

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitch778 @ 1:10 am

For my multi-author review, I found I’d write more naturally by examining a certain topic posted on the site. That would stimulate my thinking and allow me to do some analysis. So, I found a piece on Democracy Arsenal about global warming, always a juicy topic.

I’ve been reading and hearing more on this subject. The coverage is steadily intensifying, citing new reports that detail the effects on Earth. Posted by Rosa Brooks, a contributor for the site, the fairly short piece comments on the newly released report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It comes with a liberal slant, citing the Bush Administration’s reluctance to accept some generally agreed-upon conclusions. So many reports from a plethora of institutions and groups have been produced. Experts usually do exhaustive scientific research on the possible consequences of this impending event. Unfortunately, no one knows what will happen in the future. It is all speculation. It may be well researched speculation, but it’s still that: speculation.

I don’t have much knowledge on the subject but I do continue to follow the subject seeing what the world will do next. I may be noticing some changes due to warming locally. However, given the other weather events of the past two months, no one can be entirely sure. California weather has always been tumultuous and unpredictable. It can be warm and spring-like one day, and bitterly freezing the next.

I cannot take an absolute stand on what I think of global warming or what nations should do to combat it. I can only give my opinion, which is probably not learned in that subject. Perhaps I should read books pertaining to global warming. Studying certainly couldn’t hurt.

January 25, 2007

Eval 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitch778 @ 2:31 pm

This was another interesting blog run by a single person: Rodger A. Payne’s. I really do enjoy browsing the blogs written by one person. Though they have many advantages, including broad coverage, many talents, and differing opinions, multi-writer blogs, to me, seem a little cluttered. I will evaluate a multi-writer blog soon.

Rodger A. Payne, I’m assuming that’s his real name, states his objectives at the top of his page. He closely follows, in his own writing, “international relations, American foreign policy, globalization, US presidential elections, public debate…and major league baseball.” He updates the blog regularly, his latest coming today (1-24-06); he averages probably three blogs a week.

Rodger A. Payne has some impressive credentials. He’s been a tenured professor since 1991 at the University of Louisville. He has degrees from the University of Maryland, studying in the field of “international security and public policy analysis.”

As for ideology, it takes some reading to pinpoint his stance on various issues. He posts regularly with The Duck of Minerva, another general IR blog. The Duck of Minerva consists of a group of gentlemen, including Payne, most of who are left-leaning. Payne posts on both his blog and this collaborative one.

As with all IR posts, Iraq is most frequently mentioned. Lighter subjects are not ignored as Payne comments on the recent Oscar nominations and also music shows he attends. The blend of serious and casual topics will probably appeal to many readers who desire that balance.

Payne obviously reads a great number of blogs, shown by the long and categorized list of commentators on the right side of the page. He references other blogs as well and even officials in organizations. For example, Payne explains about an encounter he had with Red Stater. Payne’s liberal views clashed with Red Stater’s conservative opinions on the extremely polarizing subject of the Iraq War. This is evidence that Payne takes time to read conservative blogs, keeping an eye on what the other side of the aisle is thinking. Payne, in that same post, references Juan Cole, who recently spoke at Pacific. Juan Cole is the President of the Global Americana Institute; his areas of expertise, according to his site, are in the Middle East, religion, and history.

Payne’s page offers intriguing, if sporadic, analyses on a number of topics, some of which are not mentioned in major media outlets. However, to get a more impartial analysis, it is probably wise to peruse the many blogs he mentions for a full summation.

January 18, 2007

Hello world!

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitch778 @ 1:52 am

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

January 17, 2007

Evaluation No. 1 (here goes)

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitch778 @ 8:29 pm

    Scrolling through the list of example blogs, this particular one stood out due to its intriguing title all in capitals. It’s called ‘THE CUNNING REALIST’ and seems to focus on current issues in the international stage.

The author, whose real name is omitted, identifies with conservatism: small government, less spending, and, surprisingly enough, opposition to the Iraq War. THE CUNNING REALIST has impressive credentials to back up the posts on the site. Since I am unsure of who this writer is and for convenience purposes, I will use the pronoun ‘he’ to describe said writer. He receieved both a BA and an MBA in international business from Columbia University.

His blogroll includes Andrew Sullivan, Dan Drezner, and opinion pieces from National Review. In addition to those links, the author also reads from The Capital Spectator, Contrary Investor, and Hussman Weekly. I do not know much about these publications and therefore cannot render an opinion on their credibility. The author appears to be well-educated and informed on current developments meaning that these sites must be reliable.

The main issue, obviously, is America’s involvement in Iraq. The author seems absolutely against the invasion and its conduct since. However, he does not block out opposing viewpoints, linking to opinion sites that hold a different positions than he. He is firm in his beliefs, but respects other ideas. The author seems to have no advertising.

THE CUNNING REALIST does write rather well. It is also in a professional manner, never condescending or whiny. He does cover stories that the main media outlets probably don’t, making his posts enlightening. He offers plenty of links for people to either witness for themselves an interview or read articles from news sites.

I do look at this blog, and blogger, admiringly. It provides a reliable source of news, although, as with any blog, it requires supplementary material for a well-rounded summation of the day’s events. Overall, I applaud the efforts of THE CUNNING REALIST.

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